Patna: Contractual school teachers on strike in Bihar were denied permission to hold a rally on March 23 in Patna. They were going to protest against the apathetic attitude of the Nitish Kumar-led Government towards their demands including ‘equal pay for equal work’ and reverting to the old pension scheme.
A day after more than 500 striking contractual school teachers voluntarily tonsured their heads in protest, the police has not given permission to striking teachers to hold a “save education save Bihar” rally at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan.
Brajnandan Sharma, convener of Bihar Rajya Shikshak Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti, said that the local police informed them that permission cannot be given for the rally in a letter. Police have cited Bihar Diwas celebrations on March 23 and 24 at the same venue where striking teachers decided to hold the rally, as the reason for denying permission. They have said that permission cannot be given for any programme including holding a rally, a march or a sit-in protest at Gandhi Maidan.
Interestingly, the state government has decided to cancel events of the Bihar Diwas celebrations on March 22 and onward in view of rising Coronavirus cases.
Sharma said that a meeting of the Samiti will be held in Patna on March 17 to decide the next course of action after permission was denied. “Striking teachers have launched a signature campaign from March 13 to garner people support in favour of their demands,” he said.
About 4.5 lakh striking contractual school teachers, mostly from primary and middle schools in Bihar, locally known as ‘Niyojit Shikshak’, will have been on strike for 27 days on Saturday. They have been on an indefinite strike since February 17, the day Class 10th examination of the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) began. There is no move to open a dialogue with them yet. The strike has reportedly affected teaching in schools.
More than 40,000 contractual teachers from high secondary schools and higher secondary schools also joined the indefinite strike on February 25 under the banner of Bihar Secondary School Teachers’ Association. Following them, 1.25 lakh teachers qualified under the Teachers Eligibility test (TET) went on strike under the banner of TET Shikshak Sangathan Samiti on February 27. They demanded promotions to the post of Assistant Teacher and the same treatment as government employees.
Markandey Pathak, a leader of the striking teachers, said they would not end the strike even if the government takes action against them. He added that all contractual teachers were on strike and that they would continue until their demands are fulfilled. “We are not afraid of action and threats,” he said.
The strike call had been given by the Bihar Rajya Shikshak Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti, a joint platform of 26 school teacher associations.
According to Samiti leaders, teachers were not just unhappy but also angry with the government for “deliberately ignoring” their demands of salary at par with permanent teachers in various state government schools.
So far, the state government has acted against more than 8,000 striking teachers by suspending, dismissing and lodged cases against them.
Multiple organisations and associations of striking teachers have expressed their dismay over the harsh or punitive action by the government against the teachers who are protesting peacefully for their rights.