Raipur police arrested 2343panchayat teachers from different parts of Chhattisgarhs capital as they arrived to participate in an agitation to put forward their demands to the state government. The teachers were held from the outskirts of the city, railway stations, bus stands since midnight and were housed in 12 makeshift jails set up at different grounds in the city, police said. The demands include the merger of the panchayat teachers with those of the state education department and salary parity with the latter. The Raipur district administration had alreadyimposed Section 144 of CrPc restrictingany sort of rally, meeting, ceremony or protest at the place of protest and its vicinity. As many as 2343 teachers, including their leaders - Virendra Dubey and Kedar Jain- were held from separate places under preventive measures, Raipur Additional Superintendent of Police Vijay Agrawal toldPTI. Almost all the teachers were released by the evening except their leaders, he added. The teachers have been protesting since November 20 across the state and today's protest was supposed to be a state-level one for which teachers from across the state were asked to come to Raipur. Despite the arrests, thousands of teachers still managed to reach the Idgah Bhata grounds for the protests. Protesting teachers told reporters that they would continue the strike and would decide further plans if their talk with the government fails. Earlier today, statespanchayat and rural development minister Ajay Chandrakar said that government was ready to talk on all the demands of teachers except merging them in regular posts with education department. The minister also said that a group of teachers is expected to meet himon Sundayfor discussion. Meanwhile, the main opposition Congress has come out in support of striking teachers. State Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel who met the striking teachers said that the state government's use of the police to supress the protests was "inappropriate" in a democracy. He said that the Congress party will observe a day long bandh on December 5 in support of demands of panchayat teachers.
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