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Sunday, Dec 15, 2019

West Bengal para teachers’ fast on 9th day, Education Minister Partha Chatterjee blames CPI(M) for impasse

Over 1,000 para teachers, who are contractual teachers in government-run schools, are on a sit-in since November 11.

education Updated: Nov 24, 2019 13:10 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Kolkata
At least 37 of the protesting teachers are on an indefinite hunger strike from November 15. (Representational image)
At least 37 of the protesting teachers are on an indefinite hunger strike from November 15. (Representational image)(HT file)
         

As the indefinite fast by para- teachers in West Bengal seeking a salary hike entered the ninth day on Saturday, Education Minister Partha Chatterjee put the onus of the impasse on the previous CPI(M)-led Left Front government for bringing the situation to such a pass.

Over 1,000 para-teachers, who are contractual teachers in government-run schools, are on a sit-in since November 11. At least 37 of the protesting teachers are on an indefinite hunger strike from November 15.

To a question by reporters about the continuing fast by the teachers, Chatterjee said, “We are sympathetic to the condition of the para-teachers. However, we can’t bear the huge financial expenses, to be incurred if their salary has to be hiked further.” Before the Trinamool Congress came to power in 2011, the previous Left Front government had recruited a large number of para-teachers in an unplanned manner without thinking of the fiscal situation of the state and how to fund their salary in future, the education minister claimed.

“The onus is on the CPI(M). They opted for a populist way without ascertaining how it can be implemented.

And now they are blaming us,” he said at the sidelines of a programme of Diamond Harbour Women’s University in South 24 Parganas district.

Despite financial constraints, Chatterjee said, the Mamata Banerjee government hiked the salary of the para- teachers’ in 2018.

“The teachers should come to the government to discuss their demands and not abstain from classes,” he said.

Meanwhile, the condition of two agitating para- teachers turned critical on Saturday and they have been admitted to a government hospital, Bhagirath Ghosh, Co- Convenor of the ‘Para-Teacher Oikyo Manch’, the organisation which is spearheading the movement, told PTI.

He said the para teachers are demanding a salary above the scale of Group D employees of the state, in the region of Rs 22,000-25,000.

They are also demanding that they should be called ‘elementary teachers’ and not para-teachers any more.

BJP leader Joy Banerjee and former Supreme Court Justice Ashok Ganguly on Saturday visited the venue of the sit-in and fast by para-teachers at Salt Lake.

Their indefinite hunger-strike reached the floor of the Lok Sabha as heated arguments were witnessed between the BJP and TMC members on the issue on Friday.

State Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar also appealed to all sides to initiate a dialogue for resolving the impasse.