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UP: Fulfill Promise Made In Manifesto or Face Consequences in Assembly Polls, Say Siksha Mitras

In a day-long protest, para teachers reminded the Yogi government of its 2017 poll promise of looking into their job-related issues and benefits.
Siksha Mitras

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI

Lucknow: Defying the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government's decision to extend the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), banning strikes in the state, scores of 'Shiksha Mitras' or para teachers observed a one-day hunger strike in their homes, along with their families, here on Tuesday.

Protesting under the banner of Uttar Pradesh Shiksha Mitra Sangh, against negligence by the state government, the para teachers reminded the government of its promises made during Assembly elections in 2017.

The protest entailed holding placards, banners, posters and wearing black ribbons, putting up social media posts and writing about 5,2 lakh tweets, which was among the top trending hashtags.

Read Also: Citing Pandemic, UP Govt Extends ESMA Third Time in a Row; Unions Threaten Strike

Shiksha Mitras from across the state participated in the campaign, urging the state government to secure the future of contractual teachers; include their appointment as permanent teachers and those who have passed the (Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) should be given the appointment without  a written examination. 

Tribhuvan Singh, vice president of Uttar Pradesh Shiksha Mitra Sangh, said that the state’s nearly 1.53 lakh shiksha mitras had still not been made permanent employees despite the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s 2017 Assembly election manifesto promising to sort out their job issues.

Singh, a shiksha mitra (contractual teacher without social security) at a government school in Uttar Pradesh, is paid a monthly salary of Rs 10,000. 

He said: "The BJP in its 2017 Sankalp Patra (manifesto) had promised to solve the problems of shiksha mitras in three months. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah assured us during their rally in Varanasi to resolve our grievances if BJP government is formed in UP, but the Yogi government has not been able to fulfill even a single promise even after completing four years," Singh told NewsClick 

According to Uttar Pradesh Shiksha Mitra Sangh, after July 25, 2017 over 2,000 shiksha mitras have died during their jobs, out of which at least two dozen committed suicide, citing financial crisis and mental health. 

"The salary of the contractual teachers came down to Rs 10,000 from the earlier Rs 40,000. How are we supposed to take care of our families with a salary cut like this?" said  the union vice-president, adding that at least 230 shiksha mitras succumbed to COVID-19 while on panchayat poll duty in UP but no compensation has given to family members of any deceased.  

The union also demanded that the report of the 'High Powered Committee' which was headed by Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma in 2018 be made public; all shiksha mitras be given permanent status, the post on which they were working should be given to a member of the family of deceased.

The contractual para teachers have been also demanding  pension, travel allowance, dearness allowance, medical benefits and insurance.  

Another shiksha mitra, Kuldeep Shukla, said the onslaught of the economic crisis resulting in helplessness has been taking a toll on their mental health, which is why some have them have been driven to commit suicide.  

"The current regime is highly mistaken if they think they can come to power in 2022 by ignoring our demands. If we can bring them into power, we can also throw them out," Shukla said. 

The Supreme Court had on July 25, 2017, quashed the appointment of 1.78 lakh shiksha mitras of the state who were absorbed as assistant teachers in primary schools for not holding adequate qualifications. 

The resistance by shiksha mitras began a day after the ruling BJP extended the ESMA third time in a row, banning strikes in all state government departments, corporations and authorities for a period of six more months.

The has been opposed by several labour and state employees' organisations, including Uttar Pradesh State Employees’ Joint Council, Centre of Indian Trade UnionsUttar Pradesh ASHA Workers’ Association and All India Trade Union Congress. 

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