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Block-ed for money

- Teachers unleash salary fury on cops

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 22: The state government today announced a revised pay package for lecturers of various aided colleges following pressure from them.

This was preceded by a fierce battle between the lecturers of the two categories of colleges and the police on the Mahatma Gandhi Marg this afternoon.

Forty lecturers were arrested and 300 detained after they tried to enter the Assembly by breaking the police cordon. At least 30 persons, including 15 cops, suffered injuries as the teachers hurled stones at the men in khaki forcing the latter to retaliate, first by unleashing water cannons and then resorting to a mild lathicharge.

New pay scale

The new pay scale would be applicable to teaching and non-teaching staff belonging to the 488 category block grant college association and all-Odisha 662 category lecturers and employees association.

The former are second-generation colleges, established by private persons in the 60s and taken over by the state government, which gives them annual grants instead of regular salaries.

A lecturer in such college, who used to get Rs 11,139 per month, would now be entitled to Rs 13,900 – a raise of Rs 2,671.

Similarly, a lecturer of 662 category colleges, which were set up in the 90s and then acquired by the government, will now get Rs 8,531 instead of the current pay of Rs 5,733 a month.

However, the teachers have dismissed the government’s new package, stating that it was mere eyewash.

“It is just a raise of Rs 2,700 to Rs 2,800. It is not acceptable to us,” said sociology lecturer Lina Routray.

Member of the 488 category association, Biranchi Narayan Das said: “Our students will join us in our agitation from Saturday.”

Protest path

Members of the all-Odisha 662 category lecturers and employees association had on Thursday announced to launch a “civil disobedience” movement.

More than 3,000 teachers and employees of the association gathered at the protest venue and started marching towards the Assembly.

About 2,000 members of the 488 category block grant college association soon joined them.

The lecturers have been demanding pay parity, 100 per cent grant-in-aid and equal pay for equal work.

Once the protestors started pelting stones, the cops lobbed tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.

They also resorted to a mild lathicharge on a section of teachers. The crowd later scattered all over the road, grouped up at different places and raised anti-government slogans.

Around 30 platoons of police were pressed into duty to control the huge turnout of teachers.

The teachers have been on cease work since the last two months leading to the closure of about 1000 colleges affecting more than 5 lakh students.

Nitinjeet Singh, deputy commissioner of police-Bhubaneswar, said: “We had to use water cannons and tear gas shells to disperse the crowd as they were becoming violent. The situation was brought under control and around 15 of our personnel were injured.”