July 15, 1979, Forty Years Ago: Water workers strike

July 15, 1979, Forty Years Ago: Water workers strike

With the situation becoming grimner on the third day of the indefinite strike by the water workers, the authorities warned the workers to either resume duty by Tuesday (July 17) or face dismissal from service. At a joint press conference addressed by the municipal commissioner, Virendra Prakash, and the chief secretary of Delhi administration, P P Caprihans, the officials said that if the workers failed to report for duty by Tuesday, they would start recruiting fresh hands to run the capital’s water system. The decision to be tough with the strikers seemed to have been taken at a high-level meeting held at the residence of the Union Home Minister.

Biju Patnaik resigns
Two days before the crucial voting on the no-confidence motion is to take place in the Lok Sabha, Morarji Desai’s government received another blow as the steel minister, Biju Patnaik, sent in his resignation from the cabinet. Patnaik is the third cabinet minister, besides H N Bahuguna and Rabi Ray, to part company with Desai during this week’s tumultuous events that have dangerously pushed his government towards a precipice. Not only did Patnaik walk out of the government, he took away with him from the Janata Party in Parliament nine Lok Sabha members, mostly from Orissa — further cutting into Desai’s weakening support in the House.

Diplomat killed

Two Egyptian diplomats jumped through a hail of Palestinian gunfire to escape their besieged embassy, but the Turkish state radio said one of the diplomats died later of a skull fracture in their bid to escape. The second diplomat suffered a broken leg and a broken rib in the jump and a Turkish policeman who ran to the aid of the diplomats was wounded by gunfire from the embassy. Meanwhile, a squad of Palestinian terrorists held 18 other hostages, including the Egyptian ambassador, inside the embassy. Terrorists have been threatening by loudspeaker to “kill one hostage every five minutes” if their demands are not met.