Mamata Banerjee Toughens Stance on GJM Strike, Warns Employees Against Absenteeism

The West Bengal government, in a memorandum issued on Sunday, made clear that no leave will be granted till the strike is withdrawn.

West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee. Credit: PTI

West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee. Credit: PTI

With the indefinite strike called for by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) starting today, the West Bengal state government, on Sunday, issued a memorandum saying all government offices in Darjeeling and Kalimpong will remain open.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s government announced that the salaries of employees who fail to turn up for work during the Darjeeling agitation will be docked and their service considered broken. Asking all employees to report for duty regularly, the state government made it clear no leave will be granted till the strike is withdrawn.

The GJM has called for a strike – in the banks and offices of the state government, the Centre and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration – in demand for a a separate state and against the state government’s decision that Bengali be compulsorily taught in schools. Party chief Bimal Gurung has asked tourists to leave the hills given the possible occurrence of “untoward” incidents, the Times of India reported.

The memorandum detailed penal measures for government employees who skip work from Monday. “All arrangements have been made to ensure offices function normally. In case there is any disruption, there are laws in place and action will be taken,” district magistrate Joyoshi Das Gupta told The Telegraph.

According to the Indian Express, the memorandum read:

“In view of call given by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha indefinite bandh/strike on and from June 12, 2017, it has been decided that all state government offices situated in the district of Darjeeling and Kalimpong including those provided with Grants-in-Aid y the state government would remain open and all the employees of those offices should report for duty on each day till the call for such bandh in not withdrawn. It has also been decided that no leave hall be granted to any employee on any on these bandh days.”

“Now the Governor has been pleased to decide that absence of employees on that day will be treated as ‘dies non’ which will constitute a break in service of the employee concerned and no salary will be admissible unless such absence I covered by the following grounds: a) Hospitalisation of the employee, b) bereavement in the family, c) severe illness and absence continuing from prior to June 9, 2017, d) employees who had been on Child Care Leave, Maternity Leave, Medical Leave prior to June 9, 2017 and e) Earned Leave Sanctioned and continuing prior to June 9, 2017,” the memorandum said.

“All Heads of Offices/Controlling Authority concerned will issue show-cause notice to the employee(s) posted within that area who will remain absent on these days asking him/her to explain why action would not be taken against him-her for such unauthorised absence. Those who will not respond to the show-cause notice will be liable to disciplinary action,” it read.

The government is also planning to deploy over 250 soldiers to maintain law and order in the area, according to sources.

Last week, GJM supporters had clashed with the police during a protest. The GJM supporters had damaged police vehicles, setting some ablaze, while a cabinet meeting was on at the Raj Bhawan.