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Southern States - Kerala

Violence will be put down: CM
By Our Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, FEB. 7. The Chief Minister, A.K. Antony, has said that criminal cases will be filed against employees resorting to violence as part of their ongoing strike.

Talking to presspersons after a special Cabinet meeting here today, the Chief Minister said the Government was worried about the prolongation of the strike. Violence, he reiterated, would be put down without mercy, though it was not the policy of the Government to suppress employees' agitations. Employees implicated in violence would be suspended from service.

Mr. Antony said there was only marginal improvement in attendance in Government offices today. Attendance in ten randomly selected offices showed a two per cent increase

over 17 per cent attendance on Wednesday. Isolated incidents of violence had been reported from some parts of the State.

Overdraft: The Chief Minister said the State was running on an overdraft of Rs. 344 crores with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The limit was Rs. 215 crores. If the overdraft was not brought down below this figure before February 11, the RBI would direct closure of the treasuries. The Government was trying to obtain a loan of Rs. 200 crores from the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India. It was also trying to mobilise revenue.

He said that ex-servicemen would be appointed to man checkposts. The police would also continue to be at the checkposts. The police, he added, were facing much hardships on account of the strike.

He said a plan to unleash violence on February 5 as a prelude to the strike was averted because of the precautionary measures taken by the Government. The SFI agitation on that day was a planned one, intended to create trouble.

Mr. Antony said that instead of sharing the burden of the people, the employees were trying to use their organisational strength to bring the people to their knees. This was when the State needed a new work culture that would attract investments. Practices like gherao and `attimari' ought to be stopped. The development of Kumarakom, for example, was being undermined by agitators who destroyed property.

He noted that no other State in the country gave bonus to the employees. They had not been denied leave surrender, but had only postponed its encashment to the time of retirement. The employees had agitated in the past for leave and not for leave surrender, he recalled.

Mr. Antony said that it was the Left Governments which had used the Defence of India Rules for the first time when faced with an employees strike. The striking employees had been using barbaric methods to prevent those reporting for work, he said, recalling the attack on a woman employee at the Vikas Bhavan here.

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