Agartala: Despite the BJP-led State government’s promise to take steps to ensure the continuation of 10,323 teachers in government jobs, police arrested 310 protesting teachers on Wednesday, while a few others fell ill.
These teachers have launched an indefinite sit-in since Saturday to demand steps to enable them to continue in their government jobs since they face termination of services by March-end in the wake of Supreme Court and High Court orders that cited “discrepancies in recruitment”.
“We have arrested 310 teachers for unlawful sit-in and demonstration at different places in state capital Agartala. The detained teachers will be released before evening hours after completing formalities,” a police official said.
The official said the State has promulgated Section 144 of the CrPC to prevent mass and public gatherings in view of coronavirus scare.
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and Education and Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath had said that the state government in consultation with the Centre were trying to take appropriate steps in the interest of these teachers.
Opposition Congress and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) have been demanding protection of these teachers’ jobs by making suitable alternative arrangements.
CPI-M politburo member and former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said that the state must make alternative arrangements to protect the jobs of these teachers as thousands of their family members, including children, are dependent on them.
Senior Congress leader Gopal Roy, who met the agitating teachers, also demanded protection of their jobs and condemned the police action against them.
Teachers’ leader Bimal Saha said that they had organized many protest demonstrations in the past one year and finally launched an indefinite sit-in since Saturday, lamenting that no government representative had so far come to meet them to discuss the issue.
Saha, president of All Tripura 10,323 Ad-hoc Teachers’ Association, argued that when thousands of people have been gathering at railway stations, bus stands, airports, markets, shopping malls, and many other public places, why is the state government taking action only against teachers’ gatherings on the pretext of coronavirus prevention.
Another teacher union leader Dalia Das told the media that so far 50 teachers had died or committed suicide and the state government should provide jobs to the family members of each of the deceased teachers.
Saha and other teachers warned on Tuesday of intensified agitation if the BJP-led government did not take steps to protect their jobs.
They said that BJP leaders from Tripura and outside had assured before the 2018 Assembly elections to protect their jobs in their “Vision Document” as well as during the electoral campaign.
The 10,323 teachers holding graduate, postgraduate and under-graduate qualifications were inducted into the state government schools in different phases from 2010 when the CPI-M-led Left Front government was in power.
The Tripura High Court in 2014 ordered for termination of services of all 10,323 teachers, saying the selection criteria had “discrepancies”.
Thereafter, acting on a Special Leave Petitions by the then Left Front government and a section of teachers, the apex court upheld the High Court verdict on March 29, 2017. Following an appeal, the apex court extended its services up to June last year.
After coming to power in March last year, the BJP-led government filed another appeal in the Supreme Court in June 2019, with the court granting a one-time final extension in services till March 2020.
An Education Department official said that though several hundred of these teachers have been absorbed in other government positions and separate recruitment, including Teachers Eligibility Tests, the majority of them faced job losses. (IANS)