Higher education institutions in the State came to a grinding halt on Tuesday, as hundreds of teachers drawn from nine universities and constituent colleges, under the aegis of Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Federation of University Teachers Association of Bihar (FUTAB) and the Federation of University (Service) Teachers Association of Bihar (FUSTAB), took to the streets in support of their demands.
The teachers, on mass CL, assembled at the Gandhi Maidan and later took out a procession, which marched through the main arteries of the city before culminating into a public meeting at R-Block. They could, however, not meet the Chief Minister. Human Resource Development Minister Harinarain Singh was also not available. The teachers submitted their memorandum at the CM’s Secretariat.
The main demands of the teachers included implementation of the revised UGC package, increase in retirement age to 65 years, restoration of university’s autonomy, check on bureaucratic interference, full and regular salary, stopping exercise to demote teachers, confirmation and promotion of 2003 batch teachers, clearance of backlog promotions in all categories etc.
The teachers also demanded absorption of fourth phase college teachers on vacant posts, confirmation of the services of demonstrators, pension facilities to minority college teachers, merger of 50% DA in basic, two increments to those who completed Ph.D. before January 1, 1996 etc. The teachers shouted anti-government slogans and criticized the government indifference towards higher education.
Under the chairmanship of Prof Arun Kumar, MLC, and Prof Ramjatan Sinha, the teachers vented their ire against the government. JAC conveners Deelip Choudhary and Sanjay Kumar said that the teachers had been let down by the Nitish government. “The government does not even want dialogue. There seems to be a deliberate attempt to push teachers into agitation,” they added.
Sinha said that the teachers were losing patience after waiting for three years. “It is high time the government announced the new UGC scale. The teachers need respect. If the government will not look into the demands, the teachers will have to intensify their agitation,” he added.
The speakers were also critical of unbridled bureaucracy, which was bent upon digging up old issues to destablise higher education. All India Federation of University and College Teachers' Organisations (AIFUCTO) general secretary Prof VP Singh said that the new UGC payscale could be introduced in Bihar with slight expenditure, but it was being delayed.
“It has been implemented in two dozen states, including Jharkhand. The teachers have taken to streets due to government’s faulty policy,” he said, exhorting the teachers to intensify their agitation. FUSTAB working president KB Sinha said it was strange that despite Chief Minister’s assurance on the floor of the House and provisions in the Act, the retirement age of teachers had not been increased.
The speakers also criticized the government move to terminate the services of teachers of those colleges, which became constituent in the fourth phase in 1986. “This is so when there are over 6000 vacancies in the universities. The government should think of filling up the vacant posts, not terminating those who have put in 25 years of service,” they added.
Several political leaders, including Vasudeo Singh, Nawal Kishore Yadav, Prof Arun Kumar (all MLCs) also joined the teachers and warned the government against pushing higher education into turmoil. The speakers also urged the government to hold talks with teachers’ bodies before it was too lat. Representatives of teachers’ bodies fro all universities participated in the rally.