A delegation of 10,323 retrenched school teachers of Tripura met Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha at the state secretariat Wednesday and apprised him of the new developments in their termination, including a RTI response from the Supreme Court which said the sacked teachers were not party in the case that got them terminated.
The Chief Minister decided to meet the retrenched teachers after a series of agitations, including mass demonstrations and a walk to the assembly when the House was in session during which many of them sustained severe police action.
This issue raised furore in the last session of the current assembly, which ended two days back, as the Opposition leaders questioned the government’s intention behind denying the sacked teachers an audience. The Chief Minister assured the House that he would soon meet the ex-teachers and in tune with the same met them this morning.
“We met the Chief Minister about our demand to save our livelihood in the light of the RTI response. He promised that he would look into the issue and discuss it in an extended forum and do the needful. We are hopeful that he would actively look into the issue,” Kamal Banik, the leader of 10,323 terminated teachers, told reporters after the meet.
Banik said that at least 70 to 80 retrenched teachers were injured in the police action two days back when the police unleashed baton charge, tear gas and water cannon on a group of agitating ex-teachers en route the assembly.
Bijoy Krishna Saha, another leader of the sacked teachers, said the discussions with the Chief Minister proved that their demand for reinstatement of jobs is not “illogical”.
“The CM has seen the documents that were presented. He has asked for some more documents and said that he would take it up for discussion with legal experts in extended forum and take a call. Since Durga Puja festivities are close, he would do the needful after it,” Saha said.
Retrenched teachers leader like Amulya Debbarma, however, said that he had an unpleasant experience with the Chief Minister as he took offence at his query on what the government was doing to save lives of the 10,323 retrenched teachers.
Debbarma also claimed that he was told by the Chief Minister not to join any further delegation to meet him on the subject.
Daliya Das, who leads another faction of the 10,323 retrenched teachers, said she feels the Chief Minister’s countenance suggested that he met the sacked teachers out of compulsion and not due to genuine interest.
“It seemed the government doesn’t have any genuine interest in solving our impasse. The CM met us out of compulsion after the legislators of different parties created uproar in the assembly on our issue. From what I understood by hearing our delegates who met the CM, he didn’t give us any timeline for resolving our issue,” she said.
Asserting the retrenched teachers would have to join intensive agitation in the coming days for their jobs, Das said: “We are helpless. If this government doesn’t give us our jobs, we have to dislodge this government. If they give us our jobs, we shall certainly hail them. We shall stand by whoever will give us our jobs.”
The school teachers were terminated following a faulty recruitment process according to an order of the Tripura High Court in 2014. These teachers were appointed in different phases since 2010.
The Supreme Court upheld the High Court order in 2017 after hearing the Special Leave Petitions filed by the former Left Front government and the sacked teachers.
Many teachers got alternative jobs in different departments and over 8,000 teachers were re-inducted on an ad-hoc basis till March 2020. Since then, they have been jobless.
The teachers held a 51-day mass demonstration in the city from December 2020 in protest against the alleged government inaction to re-recruit them. The demonstration ended in police action after the protesters declined to vacate the area despite the government orders.
Among its many electoral promises ahead of the 2018 assembly elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had assured a “permanent solution” for the 10,323 retrenched teachers on humanitarian grounds.