Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Purple rain

Government employees in Jammu & Kashmir staged a strike in Srinagar, India on Tuesday against the state government & demanding payment of arrears in wages, that all temporary employees be made permanent, & to raise the retirement age by two years (from 58 to 60). The government came out full force, deploying riot & paramilitary police, setting up barricades to prevent strikers from assembling, & using water hoses with purple water against strikers--presumably to identify those who eluded barriers. Over a dozen workers were injured & 150 arrested during the protest. Some headlines declared “Police break up state employees’ protest in Srinagar”, while others said, “Employees’ strike paralyses work in government offices”. All evidence points to the latter. Shopkeepers were forced to close their shops after the colored water interfered with business & they expressed strong objection to its use. Water cannons are extremely aggressive weapons causing a number of injuries including to eyes, internal organs, & broken bones. It’s not entirely certain why they added the color but you can bet your bottom dollar it isn’t for a good reason & is probably quite toxic. The strikers say they’ll be back in early May to resume their fight. It’s not clear why these workers are fighting to raise the retirement age. It appears to be a controversial question among the workers involved & certainly is contrary to other countries where there is strong opposition to IMF insistence on raising the retirement age. (Photo by Farooq Khan/EPA)

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