Jharkhand para-teacher dies of cold during protest before minister’s house
Opposition parties held the government responsible for the death of the teacher and demand Centre’s interference to resolve their demands.
A 35-year-old para-teacher, who was staging a sit-in protest along with six others, reportedly died due to cold in front Jharkhand state social welfare minister Louis Marandi’s residence in Jharkhand’s Dumka on Sunday, police said.
The teacher was identified as Kanchan Kumar Das, a resident of Nonihat village under Hasdiha police station in Dumka district. He had been a para-teacher at the Upgraded Middle School in Chinadangaal under Ramgarh block since 2005.
“A postmortem of the body has been performed at Sadar hospital. We are waiting for the report to know the exact cause of the death,” Dumka superintendent of police Y Ramesh said.
“Chill effect in the weather could be a reason for death. But, it cannot be established until postmortem report comes,” Ramesh said.
Over 45,000 para teachers across the state are on an indefinite strike since November 16 forcing over 12,000 schools to shut. They are demanding the regularisation of their services after their counterparts in Chhattisgarh, who have served for eight years, have been regularised as assistant teachers.
They launched ‘Ghera Dalo, Dera Dalo’ programme at residences of BJP ministers, parliamentarians and legislators to push for their demand from November 25.
As part of the programme, Das and other para-teachers were protesting before Marandi’s house on Saturday night in Dumka, around 300-km northeast from capital Ranchi.
“After participating in a protest rally in Dumka market in the afternoon, we reached the sit-in venue before the minister’s house in the evening. Kanchan was already there in our makeshift tent,” one of Das’ companion Yudhir Mandal said.
Mandal said they went to bed at around 8pm but Das went to the market. He returned around 10pm and they chatted for a while before sleeping.
“We woke up around 5.45am on Sunday and was preparing tea. Around 6.30am, we called Kanchan but he did not give any response and his body shrank in cold. We immediately called an ambulance and took him to Sadar Hospital Dumka. But, the doctors declared him brought dead,” he said.
Dr Dilip Kumar Bhagat, who examined Das, said his body was brought late. “He had already died. So, it was hard to find out the exact cause of his death,” he said.
Das’ father Akhilesh Das, 60, said his son had no serious health complications. “My son died due to cold. It is the state government, who is responsible for his death. The government has killed my son,” Akhilesh said.
Kanchan was unmarried and lived with his father. His elder brother works in Kolkata.
Opposition parties also held the government responsible for the teacher’s demise. Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has demanded centre’s interference in para-teachers’ issue.
“The current BJP government in Jharkhand has lost its sensitivity and humanity. A teacher dying before a minister’s house is very shameful. A case of murder should be lodged against the minister,” said JMM spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya.
Meanwhile, Ekikrit Para Sikshak Sangharsh Morcha (EPSSM), an umbrella body of different para teachers’ associations, has threatened to intensify the agitation.
“The government is not ready for any dialogue over the teachers’ issue. We do not know if chief minister has made it a personal ego. We have a simple demand to regularise us on the line of Chhattisgarh,” said EPSSM state member Vinod Tiwary.
Marandi, who was in Ranchi on Monday, expressed grief over the teacher’s death. “I will talk to the chief minister Raghubar Das and education minister Neera Yadav to sort out the para teachers’ issue at the earliest,” she said.
Marandi said that the government was serious about their issues and agreed to concede demands to some extent. “I would request the agitating teacher to withdraw their strike,” she said.