Claiming that the West Bengal government has increased wages of contractual teachers of state-run schools, Education Minister Bratya Basu on Wednesday said those who are still agitating in an “unseemly manner” are not behaving like educationists but as activists of the BJP.
The minister’s comment on social media came a day after five female contractual teachers of primary schools allegedly consumed poison while demonstrating before Bikash Bhavan, the state education department headquarters, seeking immediate fulfilment of their job-related demands.
Basu also claimed that the contractual teachers of Shishu Shiksha Kendras (children education centres) used to work with a meagre honorarium under the panchayat department in the previous Left Front regime. They had no job security and retirement benefits.
“In the TMC rule, the SSKs brought under the school education department in an integrated manner….the honorarium for those associated with these units contractually has been increased from Rs 10,340 to Rs 13,390, a three per cent increment introduced. They have been brought under the Swastha Sathi scheme and given Rs 3-lakh retirement benefits and provident fund facilities from February 2,” he said on Facebook.
Besides, the women teachers are entitled to get maternity leave and all such educators are granted 18 CLs annually, he said, adding that no such benefits were given to them during the Left Front regime.
“Despite all these, those who are agitating in an unseemly way are not teachers but BJP cadres,” the minister said.
The agitating teachers, all members of a platform for contractual school educators, ”Sikshak Oikyo Manch”, were seeking regularisation of services and revocation of transfer orders that have forced some of them to move to places that are far from their homes. They were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly violating the Disaster Management Act.
The SSK teachers were protesting against their transfer to north Bengal, alleging that it was a vindictive move for taking part in series of movements in the past.
The five teachers had earlier this month demonstrated before the residence of the education minister seeking to know why their demands were not being met with.
Reacting to the education minister’s statement, BJP state general secretary Sayantan Basu said the party has no role in Wednesday’s incident.
“The TMC government sees the BJP ghost in every incident. But it has to be seen why female teachers had put their lives at risk. The education minister had time to attend his party events in Tripura but was not able to meet these agitating teachers,” he said.
The Congress’ West Bengal unit president Adhir Chowdhury said it was a shame that female teachers were attempting suicide to press for their demands.
The leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha demanded Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s intervention to resolve the issue.
CPI (M) central committee member Sujan Chakraborty said the state government must take immediate steps to address the SSK teachers’ demands.
A spokesperson of the teachers’ forum said three of the five who had consumed poison on Wednesday are now being treated at R G Kar Medical College and Hospital here and two others at NRS Medical College and Hospital.
“According to the authorities of the two-state-run hospitals, the five teachers are recovering and stable now,” a senior officer of Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)