Patna: Ignoring Bihar government’s diktat regarding mandatory attendance of contractual teachers in schools on the occasion of Teachers’ Day (September 5), thousands of contractual school teachers boycotted official functions and staged protests in Patna and across the state, demanding salary on par with the regular permanent teachers working in various government schools.
The contractual school teachers united under the banner ‘Bihar Rajya Sikhshak Sangarsh Samanvay Samiti’ observed Black Day on the occasion of Teachers’ Day. Samiti leader, Markandey Pathak, told NewsClick that the government has been trying hard to suppress their protest, but teachers will not step back until their demands are fulfilled.
Thousands of contractual school teachers reached Patna shouting slogans on Thursday and gathered near Sanjay Gandhi stadium in Gardanibad locality. However, they were shocked to know that the stadium gate was locked even though they had acquired permission for the protest at the spot. Even erecting tents to protect the protesting teachers from scorching sun and humidity was not being allowed.
Patna district administration deployed heavy security near the stadium in Gandanibagh and in neighbouring areas. Section 144 was also imposed here.
But teachers stationed themselves on the road itself. Most of them wore black badges and covered their mouths with black clothes to express their peaceful and non-violent protest for their genuine demand – equal pay for equal work, said Pathak.
Earlier, the administration had not allowed them to hold the protest meeting at Gandhi Maidan, in heart of Patna.
Another leader of protesting teachers, Ashwani Pandey said that majority of over 3 lakh contractual school teachers joined the protest and boycotted all official Teachers’ Day functions – even as the government had threatened them with action in case of their absence.
R K Mahajan, principal secretary, Education Department, had issued a circular on August 28 to all district education officers to ensure teachers’ attendance and to make sure that all schools are open on September 5.
Premchand, a leader of the protesting teachers, said that the contractual teachers may have lost their case in the court, but they have the option to continue their fight on the streets. “We will win our ‘street fight’ for our rights,” he said.
After the Supreme Court’s decision in favour of the state government in May this year – Setting aside the Patna High Court judgement – thousands of contractual school teachers in Bihar were left angry and disappointed. The apex court 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 – had threatened to launch a protest after summer vacations.
The state government had challenged Patna High Court's order, which had ruled that contractual teachers in government schools were entitled to salary on par with the regular permanent teachers working in various government schools in Bihar.
“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.