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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Techies mull hunger strike

Patna, Feb. 26: Bihar Engineering Services Association members have threatened to graduate from their protest to an indefinite hunger strike from March 1, accusing the government of neglecting demands of the techies.

The association’s decision to go on the indefinite strike in support of their demands, including parity with the central pay scale for the state’s engineers, was announced at a news meet on Tuesday. General secretary of the association Rajeshwar Mishra said: “We are forced to call this hunger strike because our demands have fallen on deaf ears.” He accused the government of being unwilling to contribute to the state’s development by not fulfilling their demands.

The group, which went on strike from February 6, had also observed a daylong hunger protest on Monday.

Mishra added: “On Monday, we observed a 24-hour hunger strike but the state government hardly took note . We have decided to go for indefinite hunger strike from March 1. Even if our situation becomes critical, we would continue the strike till our last breath. We are not sure about how many members would participate but we are hoping for a good turnout.”

The association has demanded parity in salaries of engineers working in the state government with that of the Union. Mishra said: “While the Union government has fixed the payscale of assistant engineers between Rs 15,600 and Rs 39,100, the state government has fixed it at Rs 9,300 to Rs 34,000.” They also demanded filling vacant posts of assistant engineers and at least three promotions in 20 years of service.

The association’s president, Ashok Kumar Verma, said the members were prepared for any situation that could arise during the hunger strike. “The condition of those participating in the strike can become critical with time but we are ready for any kind of situation. The government might try to break out strike but we won’t compromise.”