|Cops pull out Vinay Kumar Singh during a demonstration in Dhanbad on Tuesday. Picture by Gautam Dey Our Correspondent
An agitation by more than 200 teachers of BCCL-aided private schools in demand for more salaries and medical facilities reached a flashpoint in Dhanbad on Tuesday when police tried to remove them.
Some protesters even claimed that the policemen manhandled them, an allegation that was denied by the latter.
The teachers from 83 BCCL-aided schools assembled under the banner of Koyla Khadan Shikshak Morcha in front of the residence of the company’s CMD T.K. Lahiry on Dhanbad-Govindpur road around 11am with the intention of launching a two-day fast. As they sat down to protest, a team, led by Saraidhela police station officer in charge Manoj Gupta, reached the spot and told the teachers that they would not be allowed to protest on the road as it would lead to traffic snarls.
An altercation followed between the policemen and the protesters, led by general secretary of Koyla Khadan Shikshak Morcha Vinay Kumar Singh. Some policemen also reportedly manhandled Singh and two other teachers. However, other teachers intervened to prevent the situation from spinning out of control.
“We were not sitting on the road, but in front of the CMD’s residence. Moreover, we were protesting peacefully. But the policemen refused to buy any argument. They also misbehaved with me,” Singh said.
Saraidhela OC Gupta denied the allegations. “We merely objected to their fasting on the road,” he said.
Dhanbad deputy mayor Niraj Singh, who reached the spot around 1pm, tried to broker peace. He spoke to director (personnel) of BCCL P.E. Kachchap after which a meeting was held between the protesters and the authorities led by general manager (welfare) R.N. Prasad. But it failed to yield any result and the agitators continued their fast.
“According to an order issued by Coal India Limited (CIL) on June 23, 2011, all teachers of schools aided by its subsidiaries are supposed to get a minimum salary of Rs 5,000 per month. But teachers of BCCL do not get that kind of salary,” Singh said.
Prasad said the demands of the teachers had been forwarded to CIL for seeking instructions.