August 26, 2021 3:59:28 am
Day after five women contractual government teachers, protesting against transfers to ‘faraway districts’, attempted to commit suicide by drinking poison, state Education Minister Bratya Basu on Wednesday labelled the protesters as “BJP cadre”. The incident took place after the teachers were stopped from entering Bikash Bhavan, the headquarters of the state education department.
In a Facebook post, Basu said the state government, under the leadership of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has done a lot of good work for contractual government teachers such as raising their salaries and providing them with post-retirement benefits. “Even after all these, those taking part in movements are not teachers. They are BJP cadre,” Basu said.
Earlier this month, the same five teachers, belonging to an umbrella body of contractual school teachers named ‘Sikshak Oikyo Mancha’ (teachers’ unity forum), had demonstrated near Basu’s residence and also outside the state secretariat, Nabanna.
According to one of the teachers, they were issued transfer orders to faraway districts after the protest outside Nabanna.
All five teachers were rushed to nearby government hospitals after Tuesday’s incident. While four of them were said to be in a critical state, the fifth was discharged after primary treatment.
On Wednesday, the condition of the four teachers was said to be stable.
The education minister’s remark drew a sharp riposte from the BJP. “He has time to visit Tripura, hold press conferences and badmouth BJP leaders in West Bengal but has no time to talk to the (protesting) teachers. This is most unfortunate. He must first address their issues. We don’t support the way the teachers protested. But it cannot be said that there is a conspiracy behind their movement. The education minister should tender his resignation following this incident,” state BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu said.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Education Subhas Sarkar was not allowed by the police to visit the teachers undergoing treatment at the state-run hospital on Wednesday.
“The police stopped me from visiting them. I am a Union minister and also a practising doctor. In spite of that I was stopped. It seems there is no democracy in Bengal. Even the demands of teachers are not met here,” Sarkar said.
State minister Chandrima Bhattacharya said, “I don’t support this kind of movement by the teachers. There are ways to agitate and continue a movement. The state government has done a lot for contractual teachers.”
The police have initiated a suo motu case against the teachers at Bidhannagar North Police Station. They have been charged with violating Covid-19 restrictions, preventing police from discharging its duties and trying to end their lives by consuming poison.
“Doctors are doing their best and their condition is improving. We hope they recover soon. The police are also taking steps to ensure that the law and order situation is not compromised,” said a senior police officer of Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate.
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