The Punjab police on Sunday, March 8, reportedly lathi-charged unemployed teachers who were protesting in Patiala, demanding employment. Hundreds of Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET) qualified teachers, demanding job opportunities, attempted to march to Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s house in Patiala when the police used force and violence to stop them. At least six teachers were reportedly injured and had to be hospitalised.
The protesters had gathered at Nehru Park on Sunday morning. The park was cordoned off by the police in an attempt to stop the march before it even started. The protesters, however, refused to stop and jumped the walls of the park, heading towards the chief minister’s residence. This was when the police started chasing them, using lathi charge to stop them from reaching their destination. The male police personnel allegedly manhandled and beat up the women protesters too. The teachers scattered, and two protesters, who have been identified as Gurvinder Singh and Phulbagh Singh jumped into the Bhakhra Canal of Patiala-Pasiana road to save themselves from the police. They were rescued by divers kept ready by the police.
There are currently over 14,000 unemployed teachers in the state who have passed elementary teachers’ training (ETT) and TET. The protest was called under the banner of the TET Pass ETT Unemployed Teachers’ Union. Over 500 teachers from across the state had come to Patiala for Sunday’s protest. The Union’s president Deepak Kamboj told the Times of India, “Unemployed teachers are demanding that the state government should issue recruitment notification for all 12,000 vacant posts and 595 backlog posts. It should also raise the upper age limit to 42 years.”
The protesters have claimed that despite 12,000 posts lying vacant in the state, the government has advertised only for 1,664 posts. Kamboj further said, “The government, on the one hand, promised employment in its manifesto, but on the other hand is playing dirty tricks and mocking the unemployed.”
This incident has been criticised by several political parties. The opposition in the state, Shiromani Akali Dal has condemned the lathicharge. “The SAD condemns the brutal lathicharge by police on unemployed teachers in Patiala,” said party spokesperson and former state Education Minister Daljit Singh Cheema in a tweet. He added, “Instead of listening and assuring them, the Cong govt is suppressing their voice.” Bhagwant Mann, Aam Aadmi Party MP from Sangrur constituency of Punjab called the incidence shameful, and condemned the attack on female protesters by the male police personnel.