Vow to stick to their guns PCS officers granted bail
By Khalid Hasnain
LAHORE: A judicial magistrate on Saturday ordered the release of 73 arrested officers belonging to the Provincial Civil Service (PCS) on bail against surety bonds of Rs500 each.
Earlier, the police produced the officers in the court of Rizwan Hanif Sheikh and sought their seven-day physical remand.
The prosecution submitted that the senior government officers taking law in their own hands disturbed official work during the protest.
The lawyer representing the officers submitted that the allegation levelled against them were baseless as they were running state affairs honestly.
The PCS officers, including the president of Punjab PCS Officers Association, Rai Manzoor Nasir, were arrested on Friday while protesting against the Punjab government and the District Management Group (DMG).
“The government’s attitude cannot stop us from agitating rather it will push the (provincial services) officers to protest more strongly for their rights. I am surprised why the government is giving extraordinary importance to the DMG and ignoring a majority of PCS officers, protesting for their rights for a long time,” Mr Nasir said while talking to this reporter.
Giving a chronology of what he called a just struggle for the PCS officers’ right, he said the association’s office-bearers had started holding meetings in December 2009 to press for their demands.
“We held the first meeting in this connection on December 31, 2009, with the then chief secretary, Javaid Mehmood, who strongly supported our stance and accepted all our genuine demands,” he said.
He said after removal of Mr Mehmood, the association held several meetings with the new Chief Secretary Nasir Khosa, who parroted the promises made by his predecessor. Mr Khosa constituted a committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Sami Saeed in January 2010 to settle the issue.
After a series of meetings, Rai Nasir said, the ACS promised to submit the committee’s report by March 10, 2010, to the Punjab Assembly which, he claimed, was in favour of PCS officers. “But the committee in its report sent to the Punjab Assembly on April 22, 2010, disagreed with all demands of the PCS officers,” he said, terming it a “fraud” with the association.
He said the association continued its struggle for the rights of as many as 1,200 PCS officers across the province and held a grand function in Lahore on July 10, 2010. He said the government, after witnessing participation of hundreds of officers in the event, constituted a political committee headed by Sirdar Zulifqar Khosa.
Mr Nasir said the political committee agreed to all demands of the association and pledged implementation of its recommendations by July 31, 2010. However, he said, no steps were taken in this regard even after passage of the date. Later, the government flatly refused to accept any of the demands, he added.
He said due to the drastic flood hitting the country, the association didn’t give any strike call last year. “We unanimously decided to formally start our strike from March 18, 2011 (Friday),” he maintained.
He alleged that some of the DMG officer tried to pressurise the association to get postponed the strike but in vain.
“On Friday, we had just gathered the officials at the Punjab Civil Secretariat so as to finalise our strategy and distribute protest pamphlets among the officers. As we were standing about 300 feet away from the Chief Secretary’s Office, a police team led by DSP Aun Muhammad came there and arrested three of our officers, besides thrashing a clerk,” Mr Nasir said.
He said as the protesters started dispersing, a number of police officials shut all Secretariat gates and arrested more than 100 officers/officials including him, additional home secretary, additional secretary (regulations), APCA Punjab president and others.
He said the police also barred all the arrested officers from offering Jumma prayers and registered a case against them under sections 353, 431, 506, 186, 148, 149 of the PPC, besides 16-MPO, 29-A and 25-B.
He said the arrested officers were kept at various police stations along with criminals already detained there. He said the police disallowed the detained officers to contact their family members.
Mr Nasir said the government on Saturday suspended 10 PCS officers from service, including him, who played a leading role in launching the protest.
Commenting on the situation, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the government had already accepted all genuine demands of the association.
“The officers are just doing politics in the name of protest, and the government will never tolerate such behaviour,” he said.
He said the government had rightly captured the PCS officers as their protest was illegal.
Â“The officers broke the secretariat gate, besides chanting derogatory slogans against the government,” he said.
Mr Sana said arrest of the additional home secretary was also justified, adding: “He (additional home secretary) is an incompetent officer and we will take a strict action against him soon,” he added.