Office picketing evokes mixed response
By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: Most of the State Government offices functioned normally, although with thin attendance, while Central Government offices besides banks were seen locked during the office picketing called by three NGOs in Khasi-Jaintia Hills to protest the recent hike in vehicular taxes.
The strike called by the KSU, JSU and East Khasi Hills Local Taxi Welfare Association evoked minor response in the State Government offices in all the four districts of Khasi-Jaintia region while there are allegations from the agitators that cabbies ferried passengers to government offices despite “instructions” against it.
There were also some stray incidents of violence during the picketing. “Taking advantage of the picketing, some miscreants pelted stones at the office of the Legal Metrology here and broke the windowpanes,” Deputy Commissioner of East Khasi Hills Jopthiaw Lyngdoh said on Tuesday.
While work was on in most of the State Government offices here despite the thin attendance, the strike took its toll on the Central Government offices and banks as most of the Central establishments including financial institutions and post offices remained closed for the entire day.
According to Government statistics, the percentage of employees attending the offices was around 85 per cent each in West Khasi Hills, Ri Bhoi district and Jaintia Hills while the attendance in East Khasi Hills was the lowest at 52 per cent.
The NGOs on Monday agreed to hold one-day office picketing instead of two days following an invitation from the Government for talks later this month on the issue of vehicular tax hike.
The four-to-five times hike in the taxes — road tax for a passenger taxi carrying four to six persons (three-wheelers) has been increased to Rs 1,800 from Rs 420 — has led to wide public concern.
Meanwhile, the Meghalaya Maintenance of Public Order Act banning all sorts of agitations in the State, was not seen being enforced during the office picketing on Tuesday.
In Jaintia Hills, the office picketing passed off peacefully with high percentage of attendance recorded in various government departments, Our Jowai Correspondent reports.
This correspondent visited the various government offices including those of PWD, DC office and PHE and found the authorities claim of high percentage of attendance to be true.
Ironically, employees of government offices, which used to be almost empty till 11 am during normal days, were on time on Tuesday, thanks to strict instructions from the higher authorities.
However, the JSU claimed that there was only 50 per cent attendance in the Government offices and that the district administration’s claim of 85 per cent attendance was not true.
In Nongstoin, members of the agitating NGOs tried to stall the Government offices but were prevented by security personnel deployed in the offices in view of the office picketing, Our Nongstoin Correspondent adds.
W Nongsiej, ADC, West Khasi Hills said all the Government employees were asked to report at 9 am and that most of them arrived by 9:30 am.
A group of KSU members led by the Union’s Nongstoin Circle, John Milton Wahlang, visited all the offices under Nongstoin township and had an altercation with the ADC, but they could not make it to the office due to the presence of security personnel.
The KSU, meanwhile, blamed the taxi association of Nongstoin for ferrying the government employees to their offices.
The office picketing had little impact in the State Government offices while all the banks remained closed throughout the day.