Gangtok: When the entire nation was celebrating International Women’s Day on Friday, some women protesters were allegedly manhandled in front of Shram Bhawan in Tadong, Gangtok in Sikkim by some police personnel.
The incident took place when contractual workers of Alembic Pharmaceuticals were protesting against the management of the company outside Shram Bhawan in Tadong.
The incident unfolded around 4 pm when Sikkim Police successfully escorted the officials of the state labour department through the back exit of the office building. The protesters had blocked the front as well as the back entry and exit gates of the office building since 12 pm that day to press for their various demands.
“How can policemen harass women on International Women’s Day? If the police follow the government instructions, only ignoring the interest of the masses, they should remove their uniform and come out openly for a fair fight with the common people,” said a protestor.
The accused police officers had to be whisked away from the protesting site fearing backlash.
Demanding presence of Thomas Chandy, principal secretary, department of industries and LP Chettri, secretary, department of labour, to hear their grievances, the agitating workers had locked the gates of Shram Bhawan on Friday.
“The department has failed to take action to fulfill our grievances. They are just trying to delay the entire matter until the model code of conduct for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls is initiated, so that the protest dies down. However, until the issue is resolved, we shall not open the doors of the building,” the protesters said.
The protesters are demanding immediate reinstating of six contractual workers by the management of Alembic Pharma Company.
It has been further alleged that despite numerous commitment to fulfill their demands from the state government, nothing concrete has been done so far.
Meanwhile, reacting to the allegation, SHO of Gangtok Sadar police station Bikash Tewari asserted that the protesters used women as front runners in such a way that the police can’t use force. “We had to safely escort the department officials. Hence, I urged our police personnel to escort them from the back exit as there was more gathering in the front door. Following which, the protesters tried to block their exit. In the push and pull that happened, a police officer may have pushed women protesters,” Tewari said.
“Since January, Sikkim Police has been involved at restraining any issue from being a law-and-order problem. Sikkim Police has always stood to its motto of protecting and serving the people,” Tewari added.
On the absence of women police officials at the protest site, the SHO claimed that there was a shortage of women staff in the state police department.
Tewari also urged the citizens to compare Sikkim Police with the police forces of other states. "Sikkim Police has always been people friendly. We have always tried community-based policing, wherein we try to play the role of mediator, restraining from using force. The people as well as the protesters need to understand how we try to resolve issues amicably,” explained Tewari.