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Arvind Kejriwals sit-in protest enters day 3: AAP gives proof of IAS officers strike; govt employees riposte



India June 13(IM): As the sit-in protest by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his three cabinet colleagues at Raj Niwas entered its third day on Wednesday, the Joint Forum of Delhi government employees, including IAS officers, remained firm on their claim that there was "no strike", anchored by Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal.

In a bid to prove that work had been derailed in the National Capital and to back their claims of the IAS officers being on strike, the AAP government on Wednesday released six weekly Transaction of Business Rules reports showing 'nil work' in the department of women and child development in February, March and April.

The letters posted contain the information of important proposals/matters disposed of by the department. All the letters list the work done as "nil".

Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai have been camping at the official accommodation-cum-office of the lieutenant-governor since Monday evening. Jain started an indefinite hunger strike on Tuesday evening and Sisodia has joined him.

AAP leader Sanjay Singh has also reportedly written to President Ram Nath Kovind, asking for an appointment to discuss the situation in Delhi, reported News18.

The chief minister had said that he and his colleagues would not leave Baijal's office until their demands were met. The demands include a direction to IAS officers working in the Delhi administration to end their "strike", action against officers who have struck work for "four months" and approval to his government's proposal for doorstep delivery of rations to the poor.

The government had also underlined eight instances where the IAS officers had skipped meetings after the alleged assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash. As per a report in The Times of India, AAP government had said that Prakash was partly to blame for the water crisis in Delhi.

"The National Green Tribunal directed the chief secretaries of Delhi and Haryana to meet and sort out the issue of ammonia in the water supply," a government insider was quoted as saying by the report.

"The Haryana officer came for the meeting, but Prakash did not. He did not make alternative arrangements either." The meeting was scheduled for 20 February, a day before Prakash was allegedly assaulted at the chief minister's residence.

The AAP also listed several other instances where officers had skipped meetings related to the issue of ammonia in the water supply, land allotment for a college, doorstep delivery of ration, tree plantation, pollution etc.

The government, which denies that Prakash was assaulted, has also claimed that bureaucrats have been skipping meetings with ministers and working through written communication since the incident.

Officers 'skipping' routine meetings

A press release sent out by the IAS association, meanwhile, seems to lay some credence to AAP's claims. In the release, the association ma maintained that the officers were 'reluctant to attend routine meetings' with the ministers because the chief minister and his colleagues hadn't reassured them about their safety, security and dignity.

The trust deficit with the government was growing and so they were interacting with the ministers only by means of written communications, they had said.

IAS officers counter AAP govt's allegations

Delhi's bureaucrats, meanwhile, took to social media to counter the AAP government's allegations that IAS officers were on a "strike", creating the hashtag "#DelhiatworkNoToStrike" to list the recent work done by them and stress the point that they were all at work.

The IAS AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory) Cadre Association took to Twitter to give details about works done by officers of Delhi government. "Every office and officer have been working diligently. Facts speak for themselves," the association tweeted with photos of officers working in their respective offices.

In another tweet, the association said, "Lies should not be spread. All officers are hard at work." It also uploaded clippings of media reports on the projects being executed by the government officers, as per The Times of India report.

Besides the IAS AGMUT association, senior bureaucrats also discussed their work in their individual capacity on Twitter. Divisional Commissioner and Secretary (Art, Culture and Languages) Manisha Saxena, for instance, retweeted her old posts on the work that she had done. Other bureaucrats of the Delhi government have also been asked to do the same.

The officers' association also issued a statement, refuting Kejriwal's allegations that officers have been on strike since the alleged assault on Prakash. "It is strongly reiterated that Officers/Officials continue to work with full vigour and dedication, in fact, many times even on holidays...," it said in a statement.

'Struggle is on'

On Wednesday morning, Kejriwal tweeted that his "struggle" was on. "Good Morning to all Delhites. The struggle is on to remove all the hurdles before the developmental works of Delhi. Our willpower is our strength," he said.

Sisodia in a tweet said it was their third day in the L-G's office and "he did not have time to order the IAS officers to end their strike... This shows that the strike is being held on L-G's order".

"To ensure the rights of the Delhites and to re-start their work, I am going on an indefinite hunger strike. Our willpower and the trust of people is our strength," Sisodia tweeted.

All the four ministers were active on social media with tweets and re-tweets.

All MLAs and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers will gather at the chief minister's residence at 4 pm on Wednesday for a protest march to the L-G's office. The AAP leaders also exhorted the common people through video messages to join the protest march.

The police have already beefed up security outside Raj Niwas, with paramilitary and police personnel deployed in a two-kilometre radius of the L-G's office.

With inputs from agencies.

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