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Manipur police foil relay-hunger strike of VDF personnel

Manipur police foil relay-hunger strike of VDF personnel
Photo of VDF personnel staging relay-hunger strike which was foiled shortly after it commenced in Imphal on Sunday.
Correspondent IMPHAL, Aug 2 | Publish Date: 8/2/2020 1:24:36 PM IST

A relay hunger strike staged by VDF (Village Defence Force) personnel in violation of the ongoing stringent COVID-19 lockdown and curfew was foiled by police in Imphal’s Kwakeithel on Sunday.

The VDF personnel were on cease work (arm and pen down) strike since July 16 under the aegis of All Manipur VDF Welfare Association (AMVWA).

Among others, the VDF personnel are demanding hike in their monthly honorarium and regularisation of their service.

They demanded that their monthly honorarium should be 75% of the pay scale of a police constable. 

Due to the failure of the state government to address their demands, and also alleging that their demands are ignored, the VDF personnel began the relay hunger strike today at Kwakeithel Bazar.

On the first day of the strike, leaders of the district units of the association along with central leaders of the association staged the relay-hunger strike.

The protest was dispersed by a team of Imphal West district police reportedly on the charge of violating the SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) of the ongoing lockdown.

The central committee of AMVWA strongly condemned the police action while alleging that they were compelled to organize the strike after the state government failed to address their demands.

AMVWA (central committee) general secretary Ch Sanjit alleged that the state government is adamant to their demands despite their  cease work strike for more than a fortnight.

“We decided to launch the relay hunger strike after the state government remained deaf despite the cease work strike for more than half a month,” he said.

He also announced that earlier planned relay-hunger strikes till their demands are met, have been postponed indefinitely, in view of the COVID-19 crisis.

However, they will continue the gun down and pen down strike. Besides, they will also continue to stage sit-in-protest in their respective posts across the state, he added.

“We will not retreat until our demands are addressed,” he said.

A total of 10,050 VDF personnel have been on active duty since 2009. They have been assisting the police in maintaining law and order. 

Even as they were assigned duties almost similar to police personnel and the extra work due to the COVID-19 outbreak, they were ill-paid, they alleged. 

Currently, they are paid Rs 7,500 with Rs 2,000 as ration money per month even though the state cabinet had approved an increment of monthly salary of VDF to Rs 9,500 and ration money to Rs 2,000.

The striking association alleged that even though arms and ammunition were issued to them after imparting basic knowledge of firearms, safety, handling and others, they are deprived from receiving Arms Allowance which the police department provides to police personnel. 

The VDF personnel claim that they have been performing the same duty like police/Manipur Rifles/ Indian Reserve Battalion throughout the day.

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