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State puts off primary TET
- March 30 test deferred after poll-tied cops refuse to help

The state primary education board on Wednesday put off the March 30 primary teacher eligibility test (TET) which around 18 lakh candidates were to write, following a letter from police stating that they won’t be able to provide any help because of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

“The police sent us a letter this afternoon, saying they won’t be able to make the necessary arrangements for the March 30 TET because of the elections. Since it is not possible for us to hold the test without police help, we have decided to postpone it. We are trying our best to conduct the test by the middle of June and declare the results before Puja,” said Manik Bhattacharya, the president of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education.

The board plans to recruit more than 30,000 teachers through the exam.

The government on Wednesday wrote to the Union human resource development ministry, requesting it to extend the March 31 deadline for candidates without the primary teacher’s training certificate to write the primary TET.

Board officials said police assistance is a must for holding the TET. “A large number of cops are required to guard the exam venues. Besides, the question papers that we start despatching three days before the exam are kept at police stations,” said a board official. “We also need help from district administrations because at times the question papers are kept in the district treasury offices.”

The board had written to the state police chief and the chief electoral officer (CEO) on March 8, three days after the general election dates were announced, informing them about the elaborate police arrangements and help from the district administrations required for conducting the test on March 30.

“We had written the letters 18 days ago. It’s surprising that the authorities are expressing their inability to help us four days before the test was to be held,” the board official said.

Preparations for the TET were on in full swing till Wednesday morning as there was no indication from the administration till Tuesday that the police would not be able to make the necessary arrangements for holding the test on Sunday.

The board had even scheduled a meeting for Thursday with representatives of the transport department and the police to discuss the final arrangements for the test.

According to the norms, once the dates of the Lok Sabha or Assembly elections are announced, officials in the administration and the police become answerable to the Election Commission of India.

A source said the director-general of police has informed the board that its appeal for police assistance had been referred to the CEO — the poll panel’s representative in the state — but he had neither responded to the letter nor expressed his opinion on the matter.

“Since the CEO’s clearance is needed to provide any assistance to the board and since the CEO has not yet responded to the board’s letter, the police today expressed their inability to make arrangements for the March 30 test,” said the source.

The board had also written to the CEO, seeking permission to take the district administrations’ help for the TET. The board is yet to get a reply.

An official at the CEO’s office said the requests related to the TET had been forwarded to the poll panel’s headquarters in Delhi. “The commission has not yet responded.”

The deferment of the exam has plunged into uncertainty the fate of the untrained candidates — those who do not have the primary teacher’s training certificate.

A board official said of the 18 lakh candidates, only around 18,000 are trained.

“If the human resource development ministry does not extend the March 31 deadline, the untrained candidates may not be eligible to take the rescheduled test.”