Ranchi, Dec. 15: Nearly 1,900 state-run primary schools will not function from Monday in Gumla, as 5,000-odd teachers today resolved to go on mass leave in the wake of the murder of two of their peers by extortionists this week.
The Gumla Zilla Prathmik Sikshak Sangh took the decision after scores of teachers turned up at the district collectorate to pay homage to Jaglal Sahu, headmaster of the government upgraded middle school at Raikera, and para-teacher Satyendra Nath Tiwary, whose bodies were found in a Latehar forest yesterday.
General secretary of the sangh Mangleshwar Oroan told The Telegraph: “The decision to shutdown schools from Monday was taken this evening after a meeting attended by a large number of teachers.”
Sahu, 40, and Tiwari, 35, were kidnapped from the village under Bharno police station on December 10 while returning home from work.
According to sources, a new building that is being built on the premises of middle school where they taught caught the attention of the criminals, as they demanded money from the duo to continue construction work.
Oroan said the strike was not only meant to protest the duo’s deaths but also raise the question of safety.
He alleged that many teachers were facing extortion threats because of the role allotted to them by the government in construction work and the midday meal programme.
“Teachers in government schools also have to look after midday meals and construction work on the campuses. As money is involved, anti-social elements always mount pressure on teachers to extort money. Teachers have no option but refuse, at times at dearly as the killings of the two teachers show,” he said.
In Gumla, around 50,000 children avail of free education and midday meal in government schools.
However, Gumla deputy commissioner (DC) Shubhendra Jha expressed ignorance about the mass leave called by teachers. “I do not have any official information about teachers’ decision.”
When asked, he added, “As far as the involvement of teachers in midday meal and construction work is concerned, it is the state government’s decision. The district administration cannot interfere.”
Jha pointed out that some teachers who had been receiving threatening calls had even applied for transfer to safer town areas in the district.
“A decision will be taken during a meeting of the district establishment committee (which deals with transfers) by the month-end,” he added.