Contractual teachers who had been recruited in the government schools in Punjab under the central education schemes- Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan (RMSA) have been protesting against the state government’s refusal to regularise them without a probation period of three years during which they will receive less than one-third of their previous salary. The protest has been going on for more than a month now.
The state government has been making every attempt to foil their protest, from suspending or transferring the teachers who are taking part in the protest, to having the police attack and manhandle the protesters during the rallies.
On Saturday, November 10, Sanjha Adhyapak Morcha, the teachers’ union that has been spearheading the protest, served a legal notice to the officials of the state education department and district education officers for using coercive means of punishments to stop the protest. On the same evening, they also took out a protest march outside Education Secretary Krishan Kumar’s residence in Patiala.
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On November 13, the teachers organised a protest march to the residence of the Health and Welfare Minister Brahm Mohindra. However, the march was stopped by police barricades and the heavy police force deployed at the site. An anti-riot vehicle and water cannons had also been stationed at the site since morning to disperse the protesters.
SSA press secretary Gagan Ranu addressing the protest said, “If they don’t fulfill our demands, we won’t let them enter our villages during the upcoming Panchayat and Lok Sabha elections.”
Protesters marching in various districts of the state were also stopped and manhandled by the police. In Barnala, protesters marching towards ex-Congress MLA Kewal Dhillon’s house were harassed and pushed around by the police, in an attempt to stop them from reaching their destination. In Bhatinda, protesters marching towards Deputy Speaker Ajaib Singh Bhatti’s residence were stopped and manhandled by the police.
In 2013, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had ordered all the state governments to have only one cadre of teachers, instead of having separate teachers for SSA, RMSA, or state education department. The protesting teachers said that the present situation could have been avoided if the government had complied with the MHRD directions. Even though the MHRD had sent multiple notifications to the state governments to have a unified cadre of teachers, Punjab government has introduced the scheme to regularise the teachers only this October, and that too unfairly.
The teachers have said that their protests will continue until their demands are met.
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