After a two-month struggle, the Delhi University teachers have clinched an important victory as the administration has conceded to the demand about reinstating 12 teachers in Vivekananda College on Friday. The teachers were removed abruptly by the college administration led by Principal Hina Nandrajog citing the wrong roster amid the pandemic.
The university, in its order to the principal, said, “[T]he issue in question has been deliberated upon by the university at an appropriate level, in light of guidelines approved from time to time. The university, after taking into account apprehensions of various stakeholders and extraordinary pandemic situation, is of the considered view that the services of 12 ad hoc teachers be extended after giving one day usual break by the college till the current academic season is over.”
The order came late evening after the officials of Delhi University Teachers’ Association protested in front of the Viceregal Lodge. However, the protest was later suspended after the acting Vice Chancellor P C Joshi assured the protesting association members that the college would be directed to reinstate the teachers.
Talking to NewsClick, Rajib Ray, President, Delhi University Teachers’ Association, said that the conduct of the principal was wrongful, particularly in a situation when the pandemic was raging and people were undergoing immense trauma after losing their dear ones. “The college removed them when they needed their jobs the most. It’s an important victory for the teachers as the college has been directed to reinstate them. The entire struggle was difficult given that you have to organise people and have to be physically present when the National Disaster Management Act has been invoked. We also ran Twitter and online campaigns. This all could have been avoided had the Principal taken a humane view of the episode.”
Ray added that the episode has again highlighted the faults in the system through which these teachers are made to rejoin every fourth month. He added, “I think the episode brings forth an opportune moment to talk about the plight of the ad hoc teachers. About 4,500 ad hoc teachers are working in this university in miserable conditions without even maternity or sick leave, a basic human right. Tomorrow, there can be another struggle in another college. I think this should be brought to an end by absorbing them and turning their positions into permanent ones.”
Demanding removal of the principal, the association, in a press note, said, “DUTA elected members also reiterated the demand that Dr. Hina Nandrajog be removed from the Office of Acting Principal. Not only that she has continued in the Office beyond five years but runs the college like her fiefdom in a highly autocratic manner. This has caused much damage to the teaching-learning environment of the College.”
A teacher, who requested anonymity, told NewsClick that the teachers had to undergo immense mental trauma. However, the struggle does not end here. He said, “We lost our jobs when we were witnessing the horrors of the pandemic. Two out of the 12 teachers were pregnant and were battling the coronavirus infection. Everyone was anxious about what’s going to happen. Then we received an order saying that our services have been discontinued. Our salaries would be given once we submit our keys and clear dues by going physically to the college gate. Only an inhuman person can do this! We have won one part of the struggle. Second part is about the removal of Hina Nandrajog as the principal to restore the sanctity and sanity of the college. She has already completed her tenure of five years and an additional period of extension too. On May 28, the university declined to give her extension. She should go now. By what authority is she still occupying the office?”
The principal in question remained defiant even when the governing body, the highest decision-making body of the college, mandated, in a resounding vote, reinstating the teachers. Among the affected teachers, four teachers belonged to the OBC community, while three were members of the SC community. The matter was also taken to the National Backward Classes Commission, which had asked for reasons for termination of the teachers on May 10 while expressing displeasure with the decision. On June 3, the Commission sent another rejoinder to the college principal seeking an explanation which has remained unanswered so far.