Raipur: Over 1,000 contract teachers in Chhattisgarh, who have been striking work since Nov 1 for a better salary package, were arrested Monday as the state government imposed the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).
The teachers are also demanding the merger of their posts with regular teachers cadres.
The state government, however, rejected the two core demands of merger and salary hikes and asked authorities to put the protesters in jail and also begin moves to suspend them.
"This is a pressure tactic. The government will not bow down before their (teachers) unnecessary demands. If they will not suspend agitation in a day or two, I will go for a fresh recruitment drive in place of striking teachers," Chief Minister Raman Singh told reporters.
The arrested teachers have been kept at the Raipur central jail and other sub-jails in Raipur district. Policemen have also been deployed at main roads leading into capital Raipur in a bid to arrest teachers, who are reaching here to join the strike at the main protest venue in Budha Talab area.
The opposition Congress criticised the BJP government for "putting teachers in jail just for raising their demand through democratic ways".
Nandkumar Patel, state Congress president, told reporters that the state government had earlier agreed to their all demands and was now putting them in jail when asked to honour the commitment.
There are roughly 200,000 contract teachers in the state placed in different honorarium slabs ranging between Rs.6,000 and Rs.9,000 a month.