After 40 days, Rakesh Kumar, 29, one of two men from Punjab protesting atop a 110-ft tower in Chandigarh, came down on Tuesday evening after he was picked for a job in a list of 600 teachers announced by the state government. The other, Deepak Kumar, 35, said he would come down when he too gets a job as a primary school teacher.
Members of the Elementary Teacher Training and Teacher Eligibility Test Pass Union (or ETT-TET union), Rakesh from Gurdaspur district and Deepak from Fazilka had climbed the tower in the high-security zone of Sector 3, near the Punjab chief minister’s residence, on November 3.
Rakesh came down around 7.30pm after lawyer Tanu Bedi, who is assisting the high court in a case related to such protests by aspiring teachers, accompanied area police station house officer (SHO) to convince the duo. A member of the union, too, went with them, said SHO Poonam Dilawari.
Deepak told HT over phone that they had seen the list on WhatsApp as forwarded by their union on Monday. “Rakesh’s wife had gone to Gurdaspur to fetch the joining letter. She was told that the letter will be given only to Rakesh.” That’s why he climbed down.
“Another list of 800 is expected to be finalised by tomorrow (Wednesday),” said Deepak, “If my name figures on that, only then will I come down. I decided to stay back so that the government does not backtrack.”
Rakesh, too, said that though he had come down, “We have had enough of assurances from the Punjab government, but this time we will not unless we get jobs. We will immolate ourselves if the government doesn’t listen.”
Rakesh is a graduate besides having done the ETT course. He is married and has a child. Deepak has a postgraduate degree, besides ETT. He is married and has a child; and stays with his parents. This is their fourth such protest this year. In the latest before this, they and two others stayed atop a water tank for five days in Badal village, Muktsar, in October.