With two suicides in a week and a mass sit-in-demonstration in progress demanding a permanent solution to the jobs row, a large group of sacked schoolteachers in Tripura staged a road blockade at Agartala City Centre on Sunday, protesting against the alleged government role in the deaths of their laid-off colleagues.
As many as 10,323 schoolteachers, hired through an alleged faulty recruitment process, have lost their jobs.
Faced with mental trauma and depression after losing her job, Rumi Debbarma, a 30-year-old Education teacher at Ampura Higher Secondary School in Khowai district, died on Saturday after consuming an acid used in the family’s rubber plantation. While authorities suspect the death to be a fallout of a family dispute and an alleged adultery committed by her husband, fellow laid-off colleagues claimed she had been battling depression arising out of joblessness, debts and financial insecurity.
“Those linking her death to an alleged adultery by her husband are deliberately trying to derail the probe. We met her family members who said they are under severe financial stress and also have to repay bank loans that she took while she was in the job. Over 75 retrenched teachers have died since being terminated from service,” Satyajit Dey, a leader of the Joint Movement Committee put together by retrenched teachers and convener of ‘Amra 10,323’, the constituent body of the panel, told indianexpress.com on Sunday evening.
On January 2, 32-year-old Uttam Tripura, another sacked teacher in South district, hanged himself at his residence in Kamal Kanta Para, 90 km from the state capital. He is also alleged to have been in debt.
Those laid off include teachers who took graduate, undergraduate and postgraduate classes. They had been hired in phases since 2010 and were terminated after the Tripura High Court scrapped their appointments in 2014, citing irregularities in the recruitment process. While the sacked teachers and the state government filed special leave petitions with the Supreme Court, challenging the high court ruling, the former upheld the verdict in 2017.
They were later inducted on an ad hoc basis by the previous Left government and continued till March 2020 before being rendered jobless. While some of them, in the meantime, got alternative placements elsewhere, over 8,000 were later re-inducted on an ad hoc basis till March 31 this year. However, they became jobless again before their contracts were to run out.
Dipankar Debbarma, a leader of the retrenched teachers’ forum, said they wanted to bring the mortal remains of Rumi Debbarma to the protest venue to pay their last respects but were denied permission by the police.
Gautam Debbarma, another sacked teacher, said that with the schools in the process of reopening now, learning would suffer in the face of acute faculty crunch. While retrenchments have affected teachers, it would soon have an adverse impact on schools, he said.
In September last year, the state cabinet approved a policy by virtue of which 9,686 of the 10,323 sacked teachers, including 764 postgraduate Teachers (PGTs), 4,380 graduate teachers (GTs) and 4,542 undergraduate teachers (UGTs), would be able to apply for 9,700 vacant non-technical Group-C positions, which would be notified in phased manner by the government.
The cabinet also approved age relaxation for all sacked teachers till March 31, 2023 and said efforts are being taken to provide alternative employment to the terminated teachers in a phased manner.
In November, the state government announced a cabinet decision to appoint 3,970 teachers, across levels, in government schools. The state has around 27,000 teachers placed in 4,400 government and government-aided schools.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines