Calcutta, June 24: The government has kept Christian missionary institutions out of the ambit of a law already passed by the Assembly that made it compulsory to recruit teachers through the School Service Commission.
Left Front chairman Biman Bose met members of the community and missionaries at the CPM's Alimuddin Street headquarters this morning and assured them that the School Service Commission (Amendment) Bill 2006 would not affect their institutions.
The church representatives responded by calling off their agitation, which included plans for a fast.
'Bose has told us that our demand is legitimate,' said Herod Mullick, the general secretary of the Bangiya Christiya Pariseba, an organisation of church representatives and Christian missionaries.
Late tonight, Ranajit Basu, chairman of the West Bengal School Service Commission, said: 'We have drawn up a list of schools which will have to appoint teachers through the School Service Commission. Christian missionary schools do not figure in it. We have no instructions from the government to include them.'
According to the bill, any educational institution that accepted financial assistance from the state government came within its ambit.
Since the Assembly cleared the change in law on February 26, bishops, other priests and nuns of various churches and Christian missionary schools had been protesting against 'the government's interference'.
Mullick, who was part of the delegation that met Bose, said: 'He expressed his apology saying the bill was passed in a hurried manner.'
Bishops and members of the community had planned a mass 'fasting demonstration' below Rani Rashmoni's statue on Thursday demanding withdrawal of the bill.
Mullick said: 'The front chief told us that it was not the Church's job to participate in fasting demonstrations on the streets and so we should call off our agitation.'
The government, the bill says, would stop providing funds to institutions follow-ing their own recruitment policies.
'We are happy that the bill will not affect us. We hope that our government would never draft a bill like this which takes away our minority rights,' said Father Faustine Brank, a Roman Catholic priest and president of the education cell of the Christiya Pariseba.
In the demonstrations organised over the past few months, it was pointed out repeatedly that Article 30 of the Constitution guarantees minority communities the right to follow their own recruitment policies in educational institutions. The bill, thus, was an 'infringement on minority rights'.
Protests by representatives of some of the most reputable schools in the state had embarrassed the government and also the CPM leadership.
It is learnt that the bill had been drafted at the insistence of a section of CPM leaders which included Kanti Biswas, the former school education minister.
The party brass later denied Biswas nomination for the Assembly elections.