The Jharkhand ad-hoc teachers, who are put in a camp jail at a construction site in Ranchi since Thursday, wrote at least 10,000 letters with their blood to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday demanding regularisation of services.
More than 70,000 ad-hoc or para teachers, who claim to run several schools in the interiors of Jharkhand without any help from regular teachers, sat on a strike on October 17 against the government’s alleged apathy.
In the past ten years, the teachers have gone on strikes for at least five times, derailing education in several small and big government schools.
On Saturday, their bloodstained letters to the PM highlighted their “Mann Ki Baat” and the alleged negligence of the state government.
“Zindagi Maut Na Ban Jaye Sambhalo Modi Ji, Hazaron Para Shikshako Ka Ghar Na Ujado Modi Ji (Don’t snatch away livelihood of thousands of para teachers, Modiji),” said one of the letters. They used syringes to take out blood from their body and used it as ink for the letters.
Another letter said: “Mananiya Pradhanmantri, Jharkhand Ke Para Sikshakon Ke Sath Nyay Kijiye (Honourable prime minister, please impart justice to the para teachers of Jharkhand).”
These teachers were appointed under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan from 2002 as Siksha Mitra (education friend) on honorarium basis. Majority of them are working for nearly a decade yet claim to earn less than `5000 a month.
“I hope that Modiji reads our letters and understands our pain and agony,” said Sanjay Dubey, president, Jharkhand Para Sikshak Sangh.
School education and literacy secretary Aradhana Patnaik said the government was ready for a dialogue with the teachers, and protests should not be seen as a solution to every problem.
“We have given them a deadline of October 25 to resume work. Meanwhile, we are also open for dialogues,” she said.
A senior education official, who did not wish to be named, said a majority of people who have camped in the city either lacked qualifications or were not even serving as para teachers. The eligibility for their job was initially class 10 pass, but was later revised to graduate.
On Thursday, the teachers started a fresh protest at Morhabadi and were sent to a camp jail at Jaipal Singh Stadium. However, they voluntarily stayed at the stadium to stage protests from Friday onwards.
The administration failed to provide toilet facilities to the protestors, forcing female teachers to defecate in the open.
“Do teachers deserve such treatment? How can the administration keep us at a place where there are no toilets for female teachers,” said Gayatri Kumari, a para teacher from Hazaribagh.
Ranchi deputy commissioner Manoj Kumar said they were making the place dirty.
“We have not forced them to stay at the stadium, the teachers are free to return home.”