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Teachers fume over election work

Ranchi, Jan. 25: Government school teachers roped in to distribute ID cards to first-time voters today expressed concern that they were not able to take classes regularly because of election work.

The teachers, who have been made booth level officers (BLOs) for the Lok Sabha election and were deputed to distribute the voter IDs on National Voters Day, had to skip classes today, a Saturday, which is a working day for government schools in the state.

“I could not take several important classes today as I had to report for duty to distribute voter ID cards. While I am busy handing over IDs to new voters, my students back at school are suffering. I am more worried about the coming days. If I am sent to a remote area on election duty for the coming Lok Sabha polls, it will be very difficult for me to complete the syllabus,” complained booth officer Nira Devi, who teaches in Class III at Government Middle School, Morabadi.

Usha Singh, another booth officer who teaches at the middle school near Police Lines, agreed.

“I have been on National Voters Day duty since morning. When will I get time to take classes? I teach Hindi and mathematics in classes VI, VII and VIII. If things go this way, I will never be able to complete the courses,” she rued.

Many more complained that they were bogged down with election-related work ranging from revision of voters’ lists to distribution of voter IDs.

“We also have to visit each and every household to check the names of voters and add new names to the electoral list,” said Lata Sahu of Government Primary School, Hehal.

Chief electoral officer P.K. Jojoria tried to play down the issue, saying that they involved teachers in poll-related work only when there was an exigency.

“Today was National Voters Day. It’s a special occasion and so, we needed teachers at the polling booths to distribute IDs to new voters. But under normal circumstances, we don’t encourage deputation of teachers for election work during school hours,” he said.

According to deputy electoral officer Gyanander Kumar, the Ranchi Lok Sabha constituency has 2,200 polling booths of which 899 were in the Ranchi urban area.

Apart from government schoolteachers, the 899 booth officers deputed in Ranchi urban area today also included anganvadi sevikas and auxiliary nurses.

“We received good response as the turnout at the booths to collect voter IDs was 60 per cent in the urban area,” said Ranchi sub-divisional magistrate Ameet Kumar.