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Tripura: Dozens of Teachers Injured as Cops use Batons, Tear gas on Protesters

With demands to be reinstated in their jobs, around a thousand protestors marched towards the Legislative Assembly for a mass deputation.
Police personnel use water cannons on teachers to disperse them during their protest, in Agartala, Wednesday

Police personnel use water cannons on teachers to disperse them during their protest, in Agartala, Wednesday. Representational Image. Image Courtesy:PTI

Delhi: Around 30 former teachers were injured in Agartala on Monday after the Tripura police cracked down on the terminated teachers with batons, water cannons and tear gas shells to prevent them from marching to the state Assembly in protest, according to reports.

Around a thousand protestors assembled before the Rabindra Satabarshiki Bhavan in Agartala and started a rally with plans to reach the in-session Legislative Assembly for a mass deputation with their demand to be reinstated, the EastMojo reported. The Tripura High Court terminated 10,323 school teachers due to a flawed recruitment process in 2014. 

The protestors were unaware that the police had put barricades in front of the Kunjaban circuit house area to stop the rally, the EastMojo reported. They tried to breach the barricade, leading to a scuffle between the police and protestors. This eventually led to the police firing water cannons and tear gas shells at the protesting retrenched teachers. The police also resorted to lathi-charing the protestors and many of them, including women, suffered injuries.

Protestors told the EastMojo that since it was the last assembly session before the elections, the main motive of the assembly march was to again plead with the government to reinstate the teachers.

A Tripura Police official told The Indian Express that a section of protestors continued to push the barricades, and that is why the police were forced to use water cannons, tear gas shells and lathi charges against the protestors. Even though the police did not have official figures, some of the protesters who sustained injuries were sent to GBP Hospital, the official said. He added that an additional 300 protestors were detained till the afternoon.

The protests caused an outcry in the Assembly, with legislators of the opposition Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Congress demanding Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha meet and listen to the retrenched teachers.

The Leader of the Opposition and CPI(M) leader Manik Sarkar dubbed the police action on the protesting retrenched teachers as a "misuse of power."

"If the 10,323 teachers wanted to talk to the Ministers and MLAs present in the Assembly, what is wrong? In a democratic state, we expect that the grievances of all sections would be given a patient hearing. Whatever has happened with the 10,323 teachers today has no difference with the police brutality on protesting students and youth on September 15 last," Sarkar said, according to a report in the EastMojo.

The Indian Express quoted Sarkar, who is former Tripura CM, as saying, "I was unaware that 10,323 teachers were about to hold Vidhansabha Abhiyan today. Many of them sustained injuries in attacks from the police when the latter resorted to lathi charges, and used water cannons and tear gas on them. Around 30-32 of them were injured and three are hospitalised. This is a misuse of power."

The Chief Minister initially told the Assembly that the government had already met and spoken with the disgruntled teachers several times and that nothing "new" was to be conveyed, the Indian Express reported. However, when faced with attacks from the opposition leaders, the CM said, "Why wouldn't I meet them? We take your counsel. I promise here that I shall certainly meet them and talk to them".

According to the report, Tripura education minister Ratan Lal Nath also said that CM Saha had directed the District Magistrate to give an appointment to the retrenched teachers on September 27 or 28. The retrenched teachers and the erstwhile Left Front government had filed Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court challenging the order and the apex Court upheld the High Court's order in 2017.

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