| Primary schoolteachers storm barricades to stage a sit-in near the entrance of Sri Aurobindo Institute in Shillong on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, Sept. 5: It was a sight which did not augur too well for former President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s birth anniversary.
The aggrieved primary schoolteachers, gathered under the aegis of All Meghalaya Primary School Teachers’ Association in Meghalaya, stormed barricades to stage a sit-in near the entrance of Sri Aurobindo Institute, where the state government honoured some of the teachers.
Since 10 this morning, the aggrieved teachers had gathered near the state secretariat. Later they marched towards the institute, where the function was scheduled to commence at 2pm.
However, the teachers were prevented by civil and police officials from the East Khasi Hills district from proceeding towards the institute.
The teachers wanted to draw the attention of the government towards their long pending demands, which were yet to be met. The demands include regular payment of monthly salary, payment of head teacher’s allowance, inclusion of primary teachers appointed in the past as government teachers and retirement benefits.
Metal barricades and police cordons were placed to deter the teachers from marching ahead.
Police personnel, who exercised restraint, struggled to prevent the teachers from breaking the cordons. But their efforts proved to be too feeble as teachers managed to run towards the main gate of the venue to stage the sit-in.
The volatile situation was diffused following the personal intervention of urban affairs minister Ampareen Lyngdoh.
From the state Assembly, Ampareen came to the venue to meet with the association leaders and informed them that the incumbent education minister Roytre Christopher Laloo, who himself is a professor at the North Eastern Hill University, was willing to discuss their grievances. Ampareen had also brought along with her a letter signed by the education minister where he had fixed September 28 as the date for meeting the teachers.
After a discussion with Ampareen, association general secretary F.C. Shullai told his colleagues about the willingness of the government to discuss their demands.
Shortly after 2pm, following a consensus decision after the government’s assurance to meet them, the teachers suspended their agitation and dispersed from the area.
Other teachers’ associations like the Meghalaya Upper Primary School Teachers’ Association (MUPSTA) and the Khasi-Jaintia Higher Secondary Ad hoc Teachers’ Association (KJAHSSTA) also staged demonstrations at other locations to protest against the non-fulfilment of their demands. Primary schoolteachers in Garo hills also joined hands with their counterparts by not participating in the Teacher’s Day celebrations.