Ranchi: Ujjwal Rai, a para-teacher from Deoghar injured while protesting before Chief Minister Raghubar Das on Jharkhand Foundation Day breathed his last on Monday. Just a day before, another para-teacher – Kanchan Kumar Das (Dumka), died due to cold, outside Minister Louis Marandi’s residence. And on December 15, Suryadeo Thakur (Hazaribagh) too succumbed to his injuries he had received on Foundation Day. Das, was part of the ‘Ghera Dalo, Dera Dalo’ movement of the Para-teacher movement in Jharkhand, where the teachers have camped outside the residence of Ministers, Parliamentarians and Legislators, to create pressure.
What’s the Para-teacher movement all about?
Between December 15 and 17, three Para-Teachers have died in Jharkhand. However, the state has witnessed a total of nine deaths (para-teacher) in last one month. The death list also includes two female para-teachers—Zeenat Khatoon (Ramgarh) and Priyanka Kumari (Chatra).
Significantly, since the lathi-charge incident, one para-teacher Shivlal Soren is also missing.
The para-teacher movement began a month back on November 15, Statehood Day in Ranchi. As the celebratory function was on, a large number of para-teachers had gathered at Morabadi Ground, demanding their jobs to be secured like their counterparts in Chhatisgarh had been. Jharkhand has over 70000 para-teachers (contractual). Their hope of getting a permanent job as assistant teachers were raised when six secretaries of Jharkhand Government had jointly approved it and left it upon Chief Minister Raghubar Das to take a call.
“To press our demand, thousands of para-teachers had planned to reach Ranchi from across the state, on the Foundation Day function on November 15. However, several para-teachers stopped mid-way by the police. And those that reached the ground faced the brutal lathi-charge at Morabadi Ground,” informed Narayan Mahto, a member of Para-Teachers’ Sangharsh Morcha to eNewsroom.
Next day, following the brutal assault, para-teachers went on an indefinite strike.
Government silent over protest
According to Mahto, on November 15, 297 para-teachers were arrested, and thereafter deaths are continue. But even after a month, Raghubar Das government has refused to take note of the situation.
The other para-teachers who died are—Rajkumar Paswan (Hazaribad), Uday Shankar Pandey (Garhwa), Jagdev Yadav (Chatra) and Raghunath Hemburm (Bokaro).
What Para-Teachers want?
The mainstreaming, and hike in their salaries are main demand of the para-teachers. At present, an untrained para-teacher (primary) gets a salary of Rs 7800 only, while a trained one gets Rs 8200. In middle school, its Rs 8800 for a trained ones and for a TET qualified Science stream para-teachers it is Rs 9200.
The experience of teachers sadly enough doesn’t lead to much salary hike. For instance, Mahto itself, a para-teacher for 15 years now, earns a paltry sum.
“Most of us among the 70000 protesting teachers have over 10 years of experience. We have given our prime to the education department of Jharkhand. And sadly enough, till date, we don’t have a permanent job and in the name of salary, we get peanuts. In case, one of us dies, there is no provision that a kin get compensation job,” said Mahto.
Despite several MPs and MLAs from the government including BJP state President Laxman Giluwa publicly accepted that the demands of para-teachers are genuine, they couldn’t facilitate a mutual agreement between the state and the protesting teachers.
Opposition stands with Para-Teachers
Jharkhand’s opposition parties have supported the agitation of para-teachers.
Former Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition Hemant Soren tweeted on December 17 that there is no morality left now in Raghubar Das government as even after deaths of three para-teachers, it is still sleeping.
CPI-ML has organized several protest march against government’s policy towards Para-Teacher, its leader Vinod Singh said, “All the trained para-teachers should immediately get permanent jobs as educators. As for the non-trained teachers, they should be given permanent position for non-teaching works.”
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which brought a drastic change in the education sector and especially in government schools of Delhi believes that Jharkhand’s BJP government has no intention of improving education, as it has no policy to improve the deteriorating education situation and respecting teachers. In fact it does not work like a welfare state.
“Raghubar Das government wants to hand over the education sector to the private sector. Several government schools across the state have been closed, even after the opposition of local MLAs and MP,” told Jai Shankar Choudhary, Jharkhand State Convener, AAP to eNewsroom.
Choudhary also cited how Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi government had recently, made several teachers permanent and increased their salaries substantially. “In Delhi, teachers’ are being respected and not getting beaten or left to die,” said the AAP leader.