State Madrasa teachers’ 40-day-long hunger strike in the heart of the capital city came to an end Monday after the state government agreed to “some of the demands” raised by the teachers. Furfura Sharif Pirzada Taha Siddiqui played a crucial role in bringing Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to order state development minister Firhad Hakim to “look into the demands” when he visited Haji Md Mohsin Square, the teachers’ protest venue, and rang the CM seeking her intervention.
“I visited them today because teachers are supposed to be nation builders but here they have been lying on the street for 40 days and the administration not bothered about them at all. I went there and called up the Chief Minister reminding her of the assurance to the Muslims before she came to power. She said she would ask minister Firhad Hakim to take care of it,” Siddiqui said and informed that a representative body of the Staff Welfare Association of the state Madhyamik Siksha Kendra (MSK), too, later went to the Writers’ Buildings.
Association members said the strike was lifted after an assurance from Hakim. “The minister agreed to some of our demands such as formalising the 495 Madhyamik and Sishu Siksha Kendras (currently under the Directorate of Madrasa Education) by bringing them under the West Bengal Board of Madrasa Education (WBBME), and making arrangements for proper upgradation of madrasa teachers required under the Right to Education Act,” association secretary Firozuddin Md Shafique said.
He, however, added that their demand of proper pay to the madrasa teachers remains to be accepted. “The government will also not provide any financial aid to the madrasas. They would only be brought under the board so that they don’t lose their existence,” he explained.
Shafique informed that Hakim has called a meeting on November 16 which would be attended by, among others, the principal secretary of the minority department, president of the madrasa board and the president and secretary of the agitating association. “The meeting will decide on the date when to issue a notification in this regard,” he said.
By agreeing to bring the siksha kendras under the state’s madrasa education board, the government is towing a different line that what the board’s chief had suggested last month.
Abid Hossain, director, WBBME, had recently said on the teachers’ demand\ by claiming that the RTE Act was not applicable on them. “These madrasas have been registered as informal system of education, the teachers of which are paid an honorarium by the government. The RTE is not even applicable to them. The government can consider their pleas for revising their honorarium or upgrading the teachers, but bringing them under the madrasa board is illogical,” he had said.
Siddiqui, on the other hand, has cautioned the state government against going back on its words now. “
If the government does not keep its promise this time, I will take it as my personal insult since I have mediated to bring a solution to this problem. (If it happens), I will ask the madrasa teachers to go on a greater movement against the government and I will personally lead such a movement.”
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