143 aspiring teachers have been put behind bars for demanding permanent jobs. Late on Monday, these BEd and ETT teachers, including 80 women, were sent in preventive custody to the Bathinda central jail under Section 107 and 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Earlier working as the STC teachers in government schools, the teachers were brought to the jail after two days of hide and seek with police.
The teachers were running Special Training Centres (STCs) in the state during 2011-12 session. They were detained after they gheraoed the residence of Punjab education minister Sikander Singh Maluka on Monday morning.
Around 1,800 STCs were being run across the state to enroll children, who were left out of formal education.
The teachers who were running these centers are now demanding government jobs. Contrary to the demand of the STC teachers, the government reduced the number of STCs from 1,800 to 1,400 though the salary was hiked from Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,500 per month. However, around 1,800 STC teachers were in no mood to relent.
It is not for the first time that the STC teachers have taken the protest path. The recent episode started when police foiled efforts of the STC Union to hold a protest rally in the Rampura Phul town on Sunday by arresting around 200 teachers.
They were taken out of the jurisdiction of the Bathinda police and reportedly released near Moga. They, however, came back and surprised police by starting a dharna outside the residence of Maluka.
Meanwhile, residents of Maluka village were mobilised to "forcefully" end the dharna of the STC teachers.
The Bathinda police remained on their toes during the last 48 hours to desist teachers from holding a rally in the constituency of the education minister.
Parents of 80 women teachers visited their daughters on Tuesday. Many women teachers are married and have children.
"It is a blot on the education system that our educated daughters have been put behind bars. If government doesn't respect our daughters, how will it curb female foeticide," asked father of a woman teacher, who is in jail.
A jail official said, "It is very rare that we have well-qualified prisoners in the jail. It is an irony that criminals and educated youths have been locked up together."