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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Teachers on warpath

Ranchi, Dec. 19: Primary school teachers from across the state stepped up their agitation today by holding a massive dharna in front of Raj Bhavan in the heart of the state capital. While the dharna will continue till December 23, a section of teachers went on a hunger strike.

The agitators, who had gathered under the aegis of Akhil Jharkhand Prathmik Sikshak Sangh, want to be exempted from non-academic work like overseeing construction of school buildings and preparation of midday meals in the wake of abduction and murders of two primary school teachers in Gumla. The two were allegedly killed by extortionists demanding their share of funds allotted for construction of a school building.

“Monitoring midday meal and supervising construction work on school premises are thankless jobs. Teachers should be freed from such tasks as they involve government funds from which anti-social elements want cut. The killings of the two teachers in Gumla proved how risky are such non-academic works,” said spokesperson of Akhil Jharkhand Prathmik Sikshak Sangh, Shailendra Kumar.

He further complained that while the government was eager to burden the teachers with non-academic work, they were not paid extra. “It is expected that the government will pay proper attention to teachers doing both academic and non-academic works. But the reality is that we have to wait for years for our due promotions,” Kumar said.

With 41,000 teachers on the agitation path, academic activities have taken a hit at 30,000 primary schools where more than one lakh students study. Earlier, the teachers had gone on a two-day mass leave, which ended today. They also staged demonstrations in Gumla, demanding security and proper compensation for the deceased’s families.

A gang of five had kidnapped headmaster Jaglal Sahu and para-teacher Satendranath Tiwari of Government Upgraded Middle School at Raikera in Bharno police station area while they were returning home from work on December 10. The men intercepted Tiwari’s bike and whisked them away in a car near Raikera village. The duo remained traceless till December 14 when their bodies were recovered from a Latehar forest.