And, All these in the name of Temples!

published on March 3, 2008

TDB employees lay siege to Guptan’s office

Pioneer News Service | Thiruvananthapuram

The headquarters of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) here witnessed unruly scenes on Monday with employees belonging to different unions engaging in verbal war and mild fisticuffs in relation to the suspension of assistant finance officer M Satheeshkumar, who also held the charge of the accounts officer, from service.

Tension prevailed in front of the office of the CPI(M)-nominated TDB president CK Guptan as employees belonging to different unions engaged in war of words with others demanding revocation of the suspension.

With Guptan making it clear that the revocation of the suspension was out of question, the employees laid siege to his office leading to a conflict between them and other employees. Though the employees held a second round of discussions with Guptan in the afternoon, he said he could not assure anything without holding talks with Devaswom Minister G Sudhakaran. Satheeshkumar was suspended at Monday noon for not paying the salaries and other allowances of the Devaswom Vigilance officers.

As the talks with Guptan failed, the employees held discussions with RSP-nominated TDB member P Sumathikkutty Amma following which they called off their protests. Sumathikkutty Amma promised to solve the issue. The employees threatened of intense agitation in case of failure on the part of the TDB to withdraw the suspension of Satheeshkumar.

Talking to newsmen after the developments, Sumathikkutty Amma said the suspension cannot be allowed at any cost. “The allegation is that we had appointed 2,400 people in the TDB and we had received bribes for this. There were some appointments and these people have been put in jobs which pay Rs 100 and Rs 50 per day. What kind of money can we take from them? If we have got money, he (Guptan) also should have got it,” she said.

The employees agitating for the reinstatement of Satheeshkumar decided to observe Black Day at the TDB headquarters on Saturday.

Devaswom finance officer Vijayakumar had earlier been suspended for the same reason – of not paying the Vigilance SP and the Vigilance Circle Inspector. He has approached the court on the matter.

The issue came up after non-compliance of the officers with the directive from Devaswom Principal Secretary K Jayakumar, who was also the Additional Chief Secretary, for immediate disbursement of the salaries of the Vigilance officers, blocked by TDB members Sumathikkutty Amma and CPI-nominated P Narayanan.

The Vigilance SP and the Vigilance Circle Inspector, who were not in the good books of Narayanan and Sumathikutty Amma have not been given the salaries since they joined the board on deputation from State police.

Dewaswom Minister G Sudhakaran had taken this as a prestige issue while Narayanan and Sumathykutty Amma were opposing the posting of the two officers in the board and had been writing dissent notes frequently.

The Dewaswom secretary had rejected the order from Jayakumar to pay the pending salaries of the Vigilance officials. The Vigilance officials, including SP E Divakaran and a Circle Inspector, were denied their salaries as Narayanan and Sumathikutty Amma objected to their deputation from the State police on the ground that the appointments were not cleared by them.

The Vigilance officers faced the wrath of the members as they had interrogated the junior priests at Sabarimala temple following complaints that they were collecting money for issue of holy black threads to pilgrims.

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