More Than 80 Teachers Sacked in MP for Demanding Basic Rights
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI
Bhopal: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Madhya Pradesh (MP) government has sacked around 80 schoolteachers and sent show-cause notices to more than 1,200 for participating in a protest demanding the restoration of the old pension scheme (OPS) and promotions on September 13.
Hundreds of teachers under the Azad Adhyapak Shikshak Sangh were marching towards Bhopal to picket chief minister (CM) Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s house while demanding the restoration of OPS on the lines of Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, overdue promotions and clearing of 900-plus pending cases of compassionate appointment as families of the deceased teachers are facing a tough time.
However, the protesting teachers were stopped near Sukhi Sewaniya, on the outskirts of the state capital, for protesting without permission.
“Since 2017-18, we have been trying to speak to the government and senior officials of the school education department to address our grievances. The promises made by CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan to teachers just before the Assembly election in 2018 are yet to be fulfilled,” Sangh’s state president Bharat Patel told Newsclick.
However, the “government sacked teachers for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights granted by the Constitution”, added Patel, who was served notice within a week of the protest and received the suspension letter on September 24.
“When the government is not ready for a dialogue, we are left with no option but to protest. We demanded permission to protest on December 25 last year at the Bhopal police commissioner’s office but were denied,” Patel said.
The teachers “again tried on May 1 and May 5 this year to protest at any of the three places—Jamburi Maidan, NCC Ground and Shahjahani Park—in Bhopal but were turned down because of the COVID-19 outbreak”, said Patel, who was posted at the Primary Government School at Charghat, Jabalpur.
“We again demanded to protest on September 13 but were denied entry into the state capital owing to the ongoing Assembly Session. Therefore, thousands of teachers marched towards Bhopal. The police arrested the teachers, put them inside the buses and dropped them off at various places in a bid to disperse the crowd,” Patel alleged.
The teachers, who belong to various districts—including Jabalpur, Raisen, Gwalior and Sagar—were sacked for violating Rule 9 of Madhya Pradesh Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1966, not replying to the show-cause notice within the stipulated time and participating in the protest.
According to the show-cause notice, when students are returning to attend classes after a two-year pandemic break, they need special attention as per government order. Instead, the teachers went on strike and “provoked others to do the same, which is a violation of the government order. Therefore, why shouldn’t disciplinary action be taken against them”?
The Shaskiya Shikshak Sangh claimed that more than 2.37 lakh primary schoolteachers hired at village, panchayat and district levels were merged under the banner of Rajya Shiksha Sewa ahead of the Assembly election after a long fight of around two decades.
“However, the school education department considered their postings as new after the merger undermining their 15-20 years of work experience,” Upendra Kaushal, the association’s state president, told Newsclick.
Disregarding their work experience cost dearly to the teachers. “Family members of deceased teachers who were appointed after the merger are not being appointed on compassionate grounds owing to the tag of ‘new posting’,” Kaushal alleged. “Teachers retiring after 25 years of service are considered to have served only since 2018.”
Due to this anomaly, teachers are “deprived of promotions, allowances, retirement benefits and other government facilities”, Kaushal further alleged adding that “we have been demanding to count their previous experience and restore the old pension scheme, discontinued by the NDA government in December 2003”.
“When former ministers, MLAs, MPs and senior officials are getting pensions, why are teachers being deprived of it?” Kaushal asked.
Several teachers and professors associations have urged Chouhan to roll back the sacking order and extended support to the protesting teachers.
Despite repeated attempts, KK Dwivedi, director of the Directorate of Public Instruction, refused to comment while state school education minister Inder Singh Parmar wasn’t available for comment.
On February 25, senior Congress leader Jaivardhan Singh in a letter addressed to Chouhan urged for restoration of OPS and added that the issues will be a “major poll plank in the 2023 Assembly polls if the demand is not met”.
Months later on May 1, MP Congress Committee chief and former CM Kamal Nath promised to restore OPS during the Shikshak Congress convention in Bhopal if the Congress returns to power in the state. “The stand of the Congress vis-à-vis the old pension scheme is clear. It is natural that the scheme, which is implemented in Congress states, can be implemented in Madhya Pradesh too,” he had said.
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