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Madrasa teachers on hunger strike for 37 days: Meeting with minister fails to break deadlock

The minister reportedly refused to come over to the fast venue and tell those on fast that the state government would consider their demands.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | November 7, 2015 12:55:24 am

AS THE hunger strike by unrecognised madrasa teachers, currently in progress at Haji Md Mohsin Square in Kolkata, entered its 37th day on Friday, state Urban Development Minister met a delegation of the teachers at his office.

The meeting, however, failed to break the deadlock as the minister reportedly refused to come over to the fast venue and tell those on fast that the state government would consider their demands.

The teachers, demanding affiliation to the West Bengal MSK Staff Welfare Association, have been on a relay hunger strike demanding the inclusion of 495 madrasas under the state Madrasa Education Board. The madrasas seeking recognition are Madrasa Shiksha Kendras (MSKs), Shishu Shiksha Kendras (SSKs) and Madhyamik Shiksha Kendras.

According to a representative of the welfare association, the state government has gone back on its promise of giving recognition to the madrasas. In the recent past, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said her government couldn’t offer financial assistance to the madrasas because of fund crunch.

On Friday, a five-member team of the welfare association met Hakim with their demands. The meeting lasted a little over an hour.

A team member said they left after they were assured that the state government would consider their main demands and that the minister would go to Haji Md Mohsin Square to announce the same.

“But later, Hakim recalled our secretary, Firozuddin Md Shafique. The minister told him that he will not come to the venue… instead, wanted Furfura Sharif pirzada Taha Siddique to come and make the announcement. But he too refused to come,” said said association president Abdul Alim.

He added: “Now, we have decided that until the minister comes and makes the announcement, we will not lift the hunger strike… Others have a right to get first-hand information of what Hakim said because later, if the assurances made were not fulfilled, this association team would be held responsible.”

There were 4,500 madrasa teachers teaching 1.5 lakh students across the state. If MSKs are not regularised, they would turn defunct on March 31, 2016 as per the the Right to Education (RTE) Act, Alim said.

“We want these MSKs and SSKs to be formally brought under West Bengal Board of Madrasah Education. Hakim said it had been his mistake to belittle the movement of madrasa teachers or calling MSKs private institutions. We want him to tell that in front of the forum members, who are on a strike,” said Shafique.

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