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Ordered to serve kanwariyas in Lakhimpur Kheri, teachers protest

Around 45 women term the written order of district basic education officer Lakshmi Kant Pandey 'arbitrary', 'mindless' and 'insulting'
Representational image.
Representational image.

Piyush Srivastava   |   Lucknow   |   Published 20.07.22, 02:01 AM

A district basic education officer in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri has issued an order asking schoolteachers to “volunteer their services” to “help” kanwariyas visiting a Shiva temple.

Some male teachers among the 83 employed in government schools in Gola Gokarnnath town followed the order on July 18, the first of the Mondays of Shravan month when they are to render their services to the Shiva devotees visiting the temple. They offered water and food packets to the kanwariyas, showed them the way to the temple and looked after their medical needs, fearing they might lose their jobs if they did not follow the order.

Around 45 women teachers, however, stayed away, dubbing the written order of district basic education officer Lakshmi Kant Pandey “arbitrary”, “mindless” and “insulting”. They have demanded the withdrawal of the order and suspension of the official, who is responsible for inspecting and monitoring primary schools.       

Pandey’s order dated July 15 is applicable to the 13 primary schools (up to Class VIII) in Gola Gokarnnath town and informs them about an earlier directive to remain closed on all four Mondays of Shravan in view of the crowding of the town by kanwariyas.

“In continuation of the order of the SDM dated July 6, 2022, this office orders that all the government and private schools will remained closed in Gola Gokarnnath on every Monday (July 18 and 25 and August 1 and 8 of the month of Shravan). There is traffic jam because of influx of a large number of kanwariyas in Gola Gokarnnath every Monday (during Shravan). Keeping this in view, all teachers and non-teaching staff will volunteer their services on the declared holidays at the places earmarked for them to help the pilgrims,” Pandey’s order states. 

Gola Gokarnnath temple is 35km northwest of Lakhimpur Kheri town.

A woman teacher said on the condition of anonymity: “The official wrote our names and mobile phone numbers along with the spots of our duty he has fixed in his order and circulated the details among kanwariyas and other people. Since then, our phone numbers have been circulating on social media because of the official’s arbitrary, mindlessness and insulting order. We have written to senior officials that he should be suspended and his order withdrawn immediately.”

Pandey told reporters on Tuesday: “The order to serve the kanwariyas is not mandatory. Those who don’t want to do so can go to school and do other work instead.” 

A senior district-level administrative official said on the condition of anonymity: “We had ordered the closure of schools in Gola Gokarnnath on Mondays during Shravan in view of the safety of students as all roads are crowded on the four Mondays of the month. The basic education officer went many steps ahead perhaps to appease some politicians. We are discussing the matter and will issue another order in a day or two.”

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