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Protests against new Provident Fund rules turn violent in Bengaluru, several vehicles gutted in fire

The demonstrations in Karnataka’s capital city of Bengaluru against the central government’s budgetary proposal to restrict the withdrawal of Provident Fund until the individual attains the age of 58 today intensified, triggering violent protests on
India TV News Desk April 19, 2016 17:24 IST
India TV News Desk

Bengaluru: The demonstrations in Karnataka’s capital city of Bengaluru against the central government’s budgetary proposal to restrict the withdrawal of Provident Fund until the individual attains the age of 58 today intensified, triggering violent protests on the second day of the agitation.

As per initial reports, protesting garment factory workers burnt five buses leading to huge traffic snarls on the outskirts of the city. According to the police, they had to resort to lathicharge to control the mob which started pelting stones at them. Police have arrested 20 people in connection with the agitation so far.

Several policemen sustained injuries as protesters allegedly threw stones at the Hebbagodi Police Station and torched seized vehicles parked there. After warning shots failed to disperse the crowds, police had to then resort to lathicharge to control a ‘mob’ of garment factory protesting against the amendment to the Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act.

Also read: Withdrawal for housing, medical purposes possible as Govt eases PF norms

On Monday, close to 15,000 women garment workers staged a massive demonstration on the outskirts of Bengaluru, protesting the change in the Provident Fund Act, which denies the right to withdraw employer's contribution of the PF till retirement.

According to police, they had to use force to control the mob that went unruly and pelted stones.

"After I appealed to the people, they started moving. All of a sudden male garment workers started throwing stones at police vehicles. Police vehicles got damaged, constables sustained injuries, four of them are admitted in hospital," Additional Commissioner of Police (East-Bengaluru City) P Harishekaran told reporters.

The protests come on a day the Narendra Modi government offer temporary reprieve in the matter, deferring the implementation of new rules by three months. According to Ministry of Labour and Employment, the relaxed norms will enable people to withdraw their PF for housing, medical emergency, education of children and for their marriage purposes.

Meanwhile, Union Cabinet minister Ananth Kumar said that he was in touch with the government and assured that the matter will be looked into.

"Union Minister Bandaru Dattatreya assured us that he will call a meeting of Central Board of and review the whole decision," he said.  

Also a notification issued by the Labour Ministry mentioned that the time given for restriction on withdrawal of PF, which was due to come into force from May 1, has been extended to August 1.

Bengaluru houses several garment factories with an estimated 5 lakh workers. The workers say that those unsure of continuing in a government job need financial security. 

(With agencies)