Warning the Delhi Government to not resort to “petty, public shaming of institutions”, the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) demanded that the Aam Aadmi Party government releases grants for salary payments to teachers and other staff members, many of whom have not been paid in five months.
In a press release issued on Friday, the DUTA wrote that the Delhi government should open a “dialogue with the stakeholders to find solutions”. The strike by teachers from Delhi University over non-payment of salaries entered its third day on Friday, with students and teachers both taking to social media to “protest against the diversionary tactics of the Delhi Government.”
Calling the “excuses” by the Delhi Government to not release grants “preposterous”, the DUTA said that the government had gone further by suggesting that colleges in the capital pay their teachers out of funds collected from students.
“The DUTA expresses its strong objections to Shri Manish Sisodia’s statements, that are sweeping and misleading,” the press release said. The statement mentioned that the Deputy CM of Delhi “is evidently unaware of the rules of financial administration whereby grants from one head cannot be used for any other purpose.”
“More serious is the suggestion that students’ fees be used to pay teachers’ salaries. This objectionable statement is nothing but an attempt to withdraw Government expenditure from public funded institutions that will pave the way for rampant privatisation with consequent exponential increase in students’ fees,” the statement added.
“It is for the first time in the history of Delhi University that the salary of one of its units is being stopped in any which way by a government. Many state universities have been destroyed since governments have not furbished salaries. In the coming time a talented individual will not join the institution if there is no stability in that unit,” said Delhi University Teachers' Association treasurer Abha Dev Habib.
She added that over 5,000 ad-hoc teachers and contract workers who work within DU and have not been paid. Slamming the “blanket statements of corruption” by the Delhi government, she said that it was “against the dignity of the institution.” The professor added that public sector institutions were being destroyed after being painted by current governments as corrupt.
In its statement, the DUTA mentioned that the colleges in DU are “premier institutions that offer quality education, accessible to all sections of society, and the DUTA will resist such assaults on public funded higher education in the country.”
It mentioned that the Delhi Government had changed its stance, “first alleging maladministration due to non-formation of governing bodies, then with allegations of corruption and audit overreach and now with misleading statements about the availability of funds in these colleges suggests that it is not interested in fate of the employees in these colleges.”
It said that the constant attempts to tarnish institutions with “unsubstantiated statements about financial misdemeanour are unacceptable. Allegations of corruption, if any, must be proved and substantiated. While the Government is free to act against financial misdeeds, repeatedly subjecting these institutions to audits (even after three audits) smacks of an overreach and suggests that the Delhi Government is only interested in settling some political scores.
The DUTA warns the Delhi Government to not indulge in such petty public shaming of institutions that they are supposed to govern and instead open a dialogue with the stakeholders to find solutions.”
Professor Rajib Ray, president of DUTA, said that stopping salaries was “inhuman”. He added that the issue has been ongoing for five months now and that audits were a normal process, but the government cannot stop salaries on the basis of an interim audit. He said that the DUTA has been concerned with issues like the privatisation of education, fee hikes and the changes in the education policy, and will continue to oppose such moves “irrespective of which government is in power.”
In its statement, DURA mentioned that salaries and pensions of employees in most colleges have been pending, even those of pensioners and ad-ho teachers. It demanded that the “government unconditionally releases the grants as the employees must not be penalized but paid all their dues without any further delay.”
“The DUTA has been repeatedly pointing out that inordinate and unexplained delays in release of grant have had a crippling effect on these institutions, which are amongst the best colleges of the country. The teachers, students and employees will not tolerate this wilful destruction of these premier institutions,” the statement added.