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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Teacher suspension evokes anger among employees and statehood activists

State employees’ organisations and statehood activists demand withdrawal of order that was issued without conducting an inquiry.

dehradun Updated: Jun 30, 2018 22:31 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Congress workers burn an effigy of the Uttarakhand government in Dehradun on Saturday to protest suspension of a woman schoolteacher.
Congress workers burn an effigy of the Uttarakhand government in Dehradun on Saturday to protest suspension of a woman schoolteacher.(HT PHOTO)

Suspension orders issued by chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat against a primary school principal following a spat with her at the Janata Darbar here at his residence on Thursday may become a millstone around his neck with most employee organisations demanding withdrawal of the directive.

Incidentally, statehood activists too have supported the employees’ demand. They have also objected to the CM’s wife, Sunita, serving as a teacher in Ajabpur Kalan (Dehradun), an accessible area for the last 22 years at a stretch.

Be that as it may, the ugly spat between Rawat and Uttara Pant Bahuguna followed after she requested him for a transfer to Dehradun from Jeyestwari, a remote area in Uttarkashi where she is currently posted.

The 57-year-old requested for transfer on the ground that she has served in remote hill areas regularly for the past 25 years and being a widow needed to shift to Dehradun look after her children.

In the video of the Janata Darbar which went viral in social media she is seen making her request politely citing those three grounds.

Rawat too is also seen light-heartedly asking her if she had also cited those grounds at the time of applying for the job.

At this the principal got agitated and shot back saying she had not given a written undertaking to serve in the remote area during her entire service.

Rawat also lost his temper and asked the principal to mind her language and warned her that she would be suspended.

On Friday, she was served a suspension order and education secretary Bhupinder Kuar Aulakh said at a press conference that an inquiry has been ordered into the entire episode.

She said Bahuguna has been absent from her place of work without obtaining permission from her bosses since 19 August 2017 and had also been suspended in the past for dereliction of duty.

She also hinted that the primary school principal can’t be transferred to Dehradun as she originally belongs to the Uttarkashi cadre.

Rawat’s decision to suspend Bahuguna though has drawn a trenchant criticism from a number of employee organisations who have demanded that he “immediately withdraw” his directive.

They, however, admitted that both he and Bahuguna should have maintained restraint.

“The chief minister should have maintained restraint and the teacher too shouldn’t have used the foul language against him,” said Manohar Mishra, the president of the Uttaranchal parvatiya Karmachari Shikshak Sangathan, an organisation of state employees posted in hilly areas.

“However, the chief minister should immediately withdraw his suspension order against the principal concerned as it was issued without evaluating the merits and demerits of the case,” he said.

Mishra pooh-poohed the “government’s stand” that Bahuguna can’t be transferred outside Uttarkashi owing to the cadre related binding.

“I can cite a number of examples where employees related to influential people were transferred outside their original district and mandal cadres in brazen violation of rules,” he said.

Rajiv Lochan Shah, a statehood activist cited the case of the CM’s wife who, he said “has been posted as a teacher in Dehradun for the past 22 years during which she also got promotions”.

Another statehood activist Sarita Negi said the chief minister’s wife being posted at an accessible place for 22 years is also an open violation of the Transfer Act recently enforced by the state government.

Digvijay Singh Chauhan, president of the Primary Teachers’ Association, said the suspension order against Bahuguna should be withdrawn because it was issued without conducting an inquiry.

“Similarly”, added Negi, “there is a government order, which permits employees nearing retirement to be transferred to the places of their choice.”

The chief minister’s media advisor Ramesh Bhatt clarified that there was nothing illegal about his (CM) wife not being transferred outside Dehradun district.

“She got her cadre changed from Pauri to Dehradun in 1996. Besides forgoing her promotions, she was also transferred to several places in the district,” he said.

First Published: Jun 30, 2018 22:31 IST