The Trinamool Congress government has issued directions to send showcause notices to all the para teachers who have been absent from their schools without prior notice since November 11, the day they started their dharna in Bidhannagar here.
Meanwhile, the Opposition Left Front and the Congress on Monday threatened to disrupt the Assembly proceedings if the government did not take questions on the para teachers.
The para teachers, who work on contract in government-run schools, started their sit-in barely 100 metres from Bikash Bhavan, the Higher Education Department headquarters in Kolkata, on November 11, demanding permanent teachers’ status, better pay scale, provident fund facility and one-time help and job for the kin of deceased employees among other things.
As the government did not react, 37 para teachers started hungerstrike at Karunamayee in Bidhannagar from November 15. Hundreds of teachers have been visiting the protest site since then in support of their fasting colleagues.
Following this, the government had asked the district education officers to make a list of all those para teachers who were not coming to school. On November 29, Subhanjan Das, the state project director of Paschim Banga Sarva Shiksha Mission wrote to all the district education officers, ordering them to showcause the absentees. They have been asked to give the para teachers a maximum of 10 days’ time to answer. “If the answers are not satisfactory, the School Education Department may take action against them (para teachers),” said a senior official.
State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said that they are ready to start a dialogue, even as none from the government or administration visited the protest site in the last 18 days.
Chatterjee had earlier put the onus of the impasse on the previous CPI(M)-led Left Front government in the state. “Despite financial constraints, the Trinamool Congress government hiked the salary of the para teachers in 2018,” he had said.
Terming this an “inhuman attitude”, CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said the para teachers are just demanding basic things. “When (Chief Minsiter) Mamata Banerjee was in the opposition, she promised many things to the para teachers. They are now demanding those things. But, the government is not ready to give that.”
Chakraborty added that when they asked about the para teachers at the Assembly Monday, the government was not ready to take the question. “So, we have decided to bring an adjournment motion on that. If the Speaker will not allow that, we will disrupt the Assembly proceedings.”
The para teachers said that they are not afraid of the showcause notice. “Our movement will continue. This is nothing but a government conspiracy to weaken the movement. But, the para teachers have nothing to lose and we are united against any government oppression,” Bhagirath Ghosh, a leader of Para Teacher Oiekyo Mancho said.
Unfortunate those who shape our society are on hungerstrike: Author Nahar
It is unfortunate that people who shape our society are forced to sit on hunger strike with basic demands, stated writer and columnist Miratun Nahar Monday.
But, while speaking at a programme organised by West Bengal Primary Teachers’ Association, she advised, “We must keep faith.”
Thirty prominent personalities, including human rights activists had recently written an open letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, urging her to intervene and put an end to the impasse over the ongoing agitation of para teachers. The signatories in the open letter included columnist Nahar.
Urging Banerjee to intervene in the hunger strike by 37 para teachers, the letter regretted that there was no response from the Chief Minister’s Office to end the indefinite fast, which began on November 15. -ENS