Ranchi, Feb. 21: Over 900 employees of Birsa Agriculture University (BAU) went on an indefinite strike today, paralysing routine work at the varsity and its five affiliated colleges.
Also, classes at Ranchi Agriculture College, Ranchi Veterinary College, Faculty of Forestry, College of Biotechnology, and Centre of Agribusiness Management — all on the same campus at Kanke Road in Ranchi, were badly hampered.
Under the banner of Jharkhand Karmachari Morcha, the class III and IV employees went on the warpath in support of their nine-point charter of demands.
The demands include payment of arrears from January 2006 to August 2011, promotions, speedy clearance of retirement benefits and increasing medical advance from Rs 20,000 to Rs 1 lakh. These apart, the agitating staff also demanded representation of employees on the BAU senate and the board of management and compensatory jobs for the next of kin of deceased.
Throughout the day, the agitators maintained a strict vigil at the main gate to enforce a complete lockout at the university campus. Even cars belonging to the deans, registrar, controller of finance, directors, scientists and teachers were not allowed to enter the campus.
The situation turned worse in the afternoon after a meeting of BAU vice-chancellor M.P. Pandey with representatives of Jharkhand Karmachari Morcha failed to yield results.
Insiders revealed that the union leaders demanded that they be at least paid the arrears to pave the way for the agitators to call off their stir.
The BAU vice-chancellor pointed out that a letter had already been sent to the state government, seeking a special financial assistance of Rs 59 crore to pay arrears and retirement benefits of the employees. But he added that all the dues could be cleared only after the government released the sum.
“With the talks between the two sides failing to break the ice, we have resolved to continue our strike till all our demands are fulfilled,” Nagendra Singh, the spokesperson of Jharkhand Karmachari Morcha, told The Telegraph.
Sources pointed out that Agrotech Kisan Mela 2014 was scheduled to be held at BAU from March 1 to 3, whilst International Symposium on Potassium Nutrition and Crop Quality was slated on March 4 and 5. The strike will badly affect preparations for the two gala events.