Editorial

Government, 10323, And The Deadlock…

Two months after Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb promised 10,323 school teachers who had been sacked in 2014 that he would find a permanent solution for their issues, the teachers concerned have been sitting in an indefinite demonstration to draw the government’s attention to their demands. The demonstration began on December 7. The teachers are demanding that the ruling BJP government honour its pre-polls promise to provide them with permanent government employment should they win the 2018 assembly elections. So far, the government appears uninterested in the teachers’ demands. The 10,323 teachers – of whom 76 have died since 2014 – have had a convoluted history of government employment. Recruited between 2010 and 2014 by Tripura’s earlier Left Front government, the teachers had been sacked in 2014 after the Tripura high court, based on complaints filed by other candidates for the teachers’ posts, found irregularities in their recruitment and declared the process unconstitutional. Despite the fact that they had been removed from government employment, however, the teachers concerned had not actually been out of work until this April thanks to the Supreme Court, which upheld the Tripura high court’s order in March 2017, but consented to the state government’s request to allow the teachers to continue working to avoid a shortage of staff in Tripura’s government schools. The teachers were not reinstated in their jobs, however. The Supreme Court simply permitted them to work on an ad hoc basis, even granting them a six-month extension of service after their collective retirement date of January 1, 2018. In 2017-18, when the BJP began campaigning for Tripura’s assembly elections, it promised these 10,323 teachers permanent government jobs should the party come to power. In May 2018, the BJP-ruled state government duly applied to the Supreme Court to extend the service of these 10,323 teachers and on November 1, the apex court granted them an extension till March 2020. Last November and December, the government of Tripura offered the teachers a chance to enter the recruitment process again and interview for 9,000 vacant posts in various government departments, including 3,970 in the education department, 2,500 among non-technical multi-tasking staff, 1,500 clerical posts and more than 950 other non-technical clerical positions. But the teachers did not find this acceptable. “It would be not possible to sit the exam in such circumstances,” said Bijoy Krishna Saha, one of the teachers participating in the demonstration. “Moreover, the posts were created not only for the 10,323 of us, but also for other unemployed people. Since we have already served for many years, we do not believe it is logical for us to sit the recruitment exams again.” Since April 2020, the teachers have been out of work. While some were appointed to other government posts after the requisite recruitment processes, 8,882 of them are suffering financial instability. Now ‘government’ should come forward to end this deadlock.

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