(Eds: Updating with reax of Amarinder Singh, Oppn) Patiala, Feb 10 (PTI) At least 18 people were injured on Sunday as police lathicharged a group of teachers that was marching towards Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s residence here to protest against conditions for their regularisation, police said.

A superintendent of police-rank officer and five other policemen were among those injured in the melee as cops tried to disperse the protesters who wanted to gherao Singh’s residence, they said.

The protesters were demonstrating against the regularisation policy for 8,886 teachers of Adarsh schools, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA).

Police also used water cannons to disperse the protesters.

The protesters had gathered near the Patiala bus stand where barricades had been erected to stop them, the police said.

However, as they insisted on marching ahead, towards the chief minister’s residence here, a scuffle broke out between protesters and police personnel, they said.

Singh appealed to the teachers to shun the path of agitation and be patient, saying the state government was committed to finding an amicable solution to their grievances.

The teachers, most of whom were contractual employees, were protesting against a condition which requires them to work at a monthly salary of nearly Rs 15,000 for three years before being regularised in their jobs.

Some teachers alleged that the state government has stopped paying salaries to the SSA and RMSA teachers for not accepting the regularisation condition.

In a statement issued in Chandigarh, Singh said the employees must understand that despite the unprecedented financial crisis being faced by the state, the government was doing everything in its power to resolve all their issues.

He said agitations will not lead to any constructive solution and talks will be held soon to find a way out.

The district administration of Patiala, which is also the chief minister’s home district, invited the teachers’ representatives for talks and promised to arrange their meeting with the education minister.

Asserting that teachers were an intrinsic part of society, Singh assured the protesters that Health Minister Brahm Mahindra-led cabinet sub-committee was already working to find a solution to their issues.

He said he would soon meet the representatives of various employees’ bodies.

Opposition parties, including the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Aam Aadmi Party, condemned the lathicharge on teachers, saying holding a peaceful protest was their democratic right.

They said Sunday’s situation would not have arisen if the government had accepted the demands of the teachers.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.