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UP Panchayat polls: Teachers threaten to boycott counting, say many lost lives to Covid after election duty

The association has demanded “proper arrangements” for maintaining Covid protocols at the counting centres.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow |
April 30, 2021 4:24:11 am
agra, UP panchayat polls, uttar pradesh panchayat polls, up news, lucknow news, panchayat polls in up, indian expressPeople in Rampur queue up to cast their vote in the panchayat election on Thursday. (PTI)

Claiming that many teachers lost their lives to Covid-19 after they were deployed in panchayat poll duty, the teacher’s association on Thursday threatened to boycott the counting of votes on May 2. The association has demanded “proper arrangements” for maintaining Covid protocols at the counting centres.

“On April 28, Rae Bareli district condoled the death of its 28 teachers from Covid-19 since April 15. On April 26, teachers in Pratapgarh offered condolence to the death of 11 teachers, who died of Covid-19 recently. Similarly, 27 teachers in Prayagaraj died. This is going on in every district, each day. While the government can deny these deaths, but the fact remains that the deaths started taking place after the training for the panchayat polls in the first week of April,” said Virendra Mishra, spokesperson of Rashtriya Shaikshik Mahasangh, claiming that figures of teachers’ deaths would be in hundreds in the past 15 days.

“During the training, three teachers sat on one bench and over 50-60 teachers in one room. Soon, after the training, many teachers started reporting symptoms. The cases increased as polling parties were sent to booths without the Covid protocols being maintained… The teachers were sent to the polling centres on trucks. During polling, many villagers had returned from other states and as there were no testing facilities. No one had any idea, who is positive and who is not,” he added.

“Many of our colleagues had pleaded exemptions from poll duty citing that they have been tested Covid positive, but no one listened. We had requested the government in March to get all those involved in polling vaccinated, but even that did not happen,” said Brijesh Srivastava, spokesperson of Basic Teacher’s wing of the Rashtriya Shikhak Mahasangh.

The State Election Commission and the state government have, however, denied the teachers’ association’s claim that teachers died as Covid protocols were not followed during panchayat polls, which ended on Thursday.

However, following the intervention of the Allahabad High Court, the government has now asked district magistrates to look into the claims of Covid deaths from poll duty. The SEC also released a 13-point guideline for counting centres.

“We routinely seek data from all the districts about injuries and deaths of those on poll duty as they are provided compensation. While we are still collecting the details, but the numbers are very few so far. Moreover, in many cases, deaths of teachers have been reported from districts where polling took place later,” said Satish Kumar Singh, OSD, Uttar Pradesh State Election Commission.

Meanwhile, Basic Education Minister Satish Dwivedi announced that the “work from home” given to teachers on April 19 has now been extended to May 20. “This disease (Covid-19) has affected every section. The government is doing all it can to save the lives of every citizen, including every teacher,” Dwivedi said.

75% turnout in final phase; polling peaceful, say police

A turnout of 75.38 per cent was recorded in the fourth and final phase of the Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections in which 17 districts voted.

According to data till 5 pm, Sambhal topped the turnout list with 67 per cent, followed by 65.5 per cent in Shahjahanpur, and 65 per cent in Hapur.

Polling was peaceful except for a few “minor incidents” in seven districts, said Additional Director General (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar. “Today’s polling was very peaceful, and we are happy that our force has managed to do such a job during such trying times when so many of them are struggling with the pandemic themselves,” he added.

In a statement, the state police said some incidents were reported from Farrukhabad, Ghazipur, Mathura, Sitapur, Aligarh, Bahraich, Shahjahanpur. The election results will be announced on May 2. (Express News Service)

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