Kolkata: The Kolkata Police on Friday lathi-charged parateachers who have agitating since long demanding that they be made permanent and paid wages on the same scale as full-time teachers.
After permission for their march to Rani Rashmoni Avenue was withdrawn after being allowed earlier, the para-teachers assembled at the Kolkata Police Training School after the police had stopped their march.
Leaders from the Para-teachers Unity Manch spoke to police officers and told them of their demands and that they wanted to meet the Chief Minister.
However, even before the stipulated time, they alleged that the police lathi-charged thousands of gathered protesters and arrested 72 of them. Hundreds were injured.
Male police officials also beat up women protesters, including the joint convener of the platform, Madhumita Banerje, who was allegedly beaten up mercilessly.
Condemning the police action, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said the attack on unarmed teachers and the manner in which the police went after teachers in a state like West Bengal, where the teaching community has always been held in highest esteem, was deplorable.
In a statement, state CITU general secretary Anadi Sahu and president Subhas Mukherjee said the “inhuman” treatment meted out to the protesting teachers was “unprecedented” and likened it to that on agitating farmers in New Delhi or the recent police lathi-charge on unarmed teachers in Tripura.
Sahu, who was present at the venue, said the parateachers had been sitting out in the cold before Bikash Bhawan in Salt Lake for the past 50 days and that the chief minister and education minister refused to hear them out despite their “rightful demands”.
“We vociferously condemn the fact that in the first cabinet meeting of this government, it had assured them of a pay structure and permanent status, something which is being denied to them even now. The police under the Mamata Banerjee Government behaved like rowdies and that too towards teachers,” he told NewsClick.
Since December 28 last year, seven associations from the umbrella platform of unions have been staging a dharna demanding that their demands be heard. After the state government refused to budge, an array of programmes were chalked out which included the January 27 dharna before the Assembly premises and the civil disobedience programme in Kolkata on January 7.
The programmes were attended by all teachers under contract, teaching and non-teaching staff under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) schemes, SSK and MSK (para-teachers), trainers, special educators and Shiksha Bandhus.
All the organisations were miffed with the dole of a 3% increment and Rs 3 lakh as retirement benefit, as they expected the government to honour them as permanent teachers on a fixed pay structure.
In Kolkat Police Central Lockup.
Parateachers Unity Manch – a non-political organisation with support from CITU and other organisations – had strongly protested against the offer by the state government and claimed that a fixed salary structure was their right.
The teachers have decided to continue with their agitation at the court sanctioned protest site before Bikash Bhawan.