Patna: Dozens of contractual school teachers were injured in police action while they were on their way to gherao the Bihar Assembly, demanding salary at par with permanent teachers working in various government schools in the state, on Thursday, July 18.
"Dozens of teachers were injured in the protest. Some of them were badly beaten by the police, while others fell on the roadside and sustained injuries while trying to escape from water cannons, tear gas and lathicharge," Bihar Rajya Prarambhik Shikshak Sangh leader Pradeep Kumar Pappu told NewsClick.
According to the teachers, despite the scorching heat and humidity, they had started a peaceful protest march towards the Bihar Assembly. However, the police barred them from moving ahead. As a result, a group of the protesting teachers tried to break the barricade and the police responded with force to disperse them.
Police officials claimed that the teachers pelted stones at them when they were stopped by the barricade.
Bihar Rajya Shikhshak Sangarsh Samanvay Samiti (BRSSSS) leader Amit Vikram said that thhe use of police against peaceful protest by teachers has exposed the real face of the state government led by Nitish Kumar, who is not ready to listen their genuine grievances.
Also read: Thousands of School Teachers in Bihar Upset Over Non-Payment of Salaries for 3 Months
Meanwhile, Bihar Education Minister K N Verma said that he was not aware about the teachers’ protest. He also said, "The teachers decision to gherao the Assembly was not proper as the government is sympathetic to them and doing everything to fulfill their demands.”
The Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress and Left parties leaders have criticised the education minister for his statement. "The education minister is lying, he is trying to downplay police action against teachers," CPI (M) leader Awadesh Kumar said.
The 18 school teachers’ associations ,who were part of the protest have also questioned police action against the protesting teachers and threatened to intensify the protest in coming days.
Another leader of BRSSSS, Rajesh Ranjan said, “We have been raising our demands of equal pay for equal work and protesting against the state government’s ignorance of our genuine rights but government has been using different measures to suppress our voices.” He said that after the Supreme Court’s decision in favour of the state government in May this year, thousands of contractual school teachers in Bihar are angry and have threatened to go on strike.
Setting aside the Patna High Court judgement, the Supreme Court had refused to regularise jobs of about 3.5 lakh contractual teachers in Bihar. In protest of this verdict, many contractual school teachers – also known as Niyojit Shikshak – have threatened to launch protest after summer vacation.
The state government had challenged Patna High Court's order, which had ruled that contractual teachers in government schools were entitled to salary at par with regular permanent teachers working in various government schools in Bihar.
Also read: Contractual School Teachers to Protest Before Bihar Assembly
“Contractual school teachers have no option but to take to the streets to protest against the Nitish Kumar-led government. We will plan a phase-wise agitation against the state government for our demand of equal pay for equal work,” Ranjan said.