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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Lock on hill school office

Darjeeling, March 26: The Gorkha Primary Teachers’ Organisation today started a five-day strike in the offices of the district inspector of schools, circle inspector and the district school board for immediate fulfilment of demands ranging from quick delivery of textbooks to filling up vacant posts.

The GPTO, affiliated to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, has also threatened to organise chakka jams and a general strike in the hills in the coming days if their demands are not met immediately. The members of the organisation set up pickets in front of the offices in the morning, preventing the employees from entering. The strike will continue till Friday.

Bhusan Thapa, the general secretary of the GPTO, said: “The school children have not yet received the free text books. The post of the district inspector of primary schools has been lying vacant since February because of which many former teachers have not received their pensions. Even those who opted for voluntary retirement, haven’t got their dues.”

The GPTO said despite repeated requests to the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, their demands had not been met.

Announcing the agitation, Thapa said the offices of the district inspector of primary schools, circle inspector and the district school board would remain closed for five days starting today. “If our demands are not met before March 30, primary school teachers from across the hills will organise a rally in Darjeeling town the next day,” said Thapa.

The GPTO said it would also close down the offices of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and the education department of the DGHC from April 2. Under the SSA, school students are given free mid-day meals. The teachers’ association has, however, decided to keep the 774 primary schools spread across the hills out of the strike’s ambit for the moment.

“But if we see no solution at hand, we are contemplating organising a chakka jam and also a general strike across the hills. We have, however, not yet decided on the date,” said a source.

DGHC administrator Anil Verma said the decision to introduce NCERT books this time was taken in February. “We are trying our best but certain processes take time.”

Asked about the appointment of a district inspector of schools (primary), Verma said: “I have been told (by the higher authorities of the state government) that the order for appointment of a district inspector has been passed and the post would be filled very soon.”