A protesting education guarantee scheme (EGS) teacher accidentally caught fire when he jumped over a burning effigy of Punjab government during a teachers’ protest on Wednesday afternoon.
Samarjit Singh, 35, a resident of Mansa, was jumping and stomping on the burning effigy at Fauji Chowk here when the incident took place. Cops present on duty threw a wet blanket on Singh immediately.
This happened immediately after the effigy was set on fire as members of Shaheed Kiranjit Kaur EGS , alternative innovative education (AIE) and special trainer (STR) teachers’ union blocked Goniana and Bibiwala road.
The police have kept themselves prepared for such incidents as protesters have been threatening self-immolation during the ongoing month-long protest by the union.
The victim suffered over 30% of burn injuries and was taken to the Bathinda civil hospital, from where he was referred to Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital in Faridkot. His condition is said to be stable.
Some union members claimed that the victim had poured combustible material on him before jumping into the flames but union leader Sukhchain Singh said they were not clear if the victim had poured petrol on himself or not.
“As per the protesters present, the victim jumped over the burning effigy and accidentally caught fire,” Bathinda senior superintendent of police (SSP) Swapan Sharma said.
7,800 teachers recruited under the EGS, alternative innovative education (AIE) and as special trainer (STR) have been protesting in Bathinda for over a month, demanding regularisation of services.
The teachers, under these three schemes, were recruited in 2003 but their services were stopped in 2009 and were made to undergo elementary teachers training course in three batches.
They were again recruited after the union led a protest in February 2014, ahead of the parliamentary polls. Union leader Sukhchain Singh said that they are getting meager salary of Rs 5000 per month which has also not been paid for past six months.
The union is alleging that the chief minister had assured them in past meetings that their services will be transferred to pre-nursery teachers as the Punjab government was going to start pre-nursery classes in government primary schools.
The union delegation had also met the chief minister in Kapurthala on Wednesday to discuss their demands. Kulwant Kaur, a delegation member, said nothing fruitful came out of the meeting.