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Police remove TET protesters from Karunamoyee in Salt Lake

Late-night operation begins, candidates lifted and taken to buses

Subhankar Chowdhury, Snehal Sengupta | Published 21.10.22, 07:08 AM
TET 2017 candidates protest in Salt Lake’s Karunamoyee on Thursday evening.

TET 2017 candidates protest in Salt Lake’s Karunamoyee on Thursday evening.

Gautam Bose

Past Thursday midnight, police started bodily lifting candidates who had written the Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET) and were protesting in Salt Lake. They were packed into buses that the police had brought.

Until Thursday, the 2014 batch was protesting. But from Thursday onwards, the 2017 batch hit the streets against the demand raised by the 2014 candidates that they be recruited without having to appear in a fresh interview. Till 12.45am, only the 2014 batch protesters had been removed.

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A police officer said the assembly was unlawful and the protesters were being detained. Leaders from the BJP, CPM and the Congress threatened protests across the state on Friday. The venue of the protest by the 2017 batch (notification for the exam was issued in 2017 but the test was held in 2021) was about 200 metres from the other protest site in Salt Lake’s Karunamoyee.

The high court on Thursday heard a petition from the state primary education board in which the board argued that as the site of protests — outside its office in Karunamoyee — comes under Section 144 of the CrPC, an agitation should not be allowed there. Gatherings are not allowed in places where Section 144 is in force. A vacation bench of the court said: “Needless to mention that the directions given under Section 144 of CrPC are to be complied with by the police authorities. Let the matter be placed before the regular bench (later).”

The protesters were sitting in small groups to avoid action under Section 144.

On Thursday evening, a large police contingent was stationed at the protest sites. Policemen with loudhailers made repeated announcements that candidates from both groups were blocking a road near a hospital and leading to Sector V, inconveniencing thousands of commuters.

The police also told the groups through public announcements that they would be forced to start legal proceedings if the protesters did not vacate the place. The announcements, however, had little effect. Every time, announcements were made, they were greeted with jeers and sloganeering.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday: “I love those who are protesting on legitimate grounds. I don’t want anyone to lose his or her job.”

The TET 2017 candidates fear that the TET 2014 examinees, who have been blocking the road since Monday, would fill all 11,000-odd vacancies in government-aided primary schools if the government accepts their demand that they be recruited without having to appear in yet another interview.

The 2014 candidates had already appeared in at least one interview, and many of them in two interviews. The 2017 candidates, who had arrived at the Karunamoyee intersection with placards, tried to outshout the 2014 batch. There was a brief altercation and sloganeering and counter-sloganeering between the two groups. Some of the 2017 candidates tried to climb over the guardrails installed on the median divider of Second Avenue to get to the protest site of the 2014 candidates, but were stopped by the other group as well as the police.  “What they are doing is illegal. They had a chance to appear in two interviews and have got another chance as well. Now, they are disrupting the entire process,” said Mohammed Shafiqul Islam, a resident of North 24-Parganas and TET 2017 examinee. Many of the 2017 candidates were heard saying on their way to the protest site from the Sector V Metro station that the board had appointed over 54,000 candidates from the 2014 batch. It is now the turn of the 2017 candidates to get appointed, they said. The board had last month decided to hold interviews for appointing 11,000-odd teachers and has told candidates from both batches — 2014 and 2017 — to appear in them. 

The protesting TET 2014 candidates, who had failed to make it to the final list for appointment on the basis of scores in each stage of screening (such as written test and interview), are opposed to appearing in another interview. The primary education board is yet to announce the interview dates.

The candidates are against appearing in a fresh interview because they think the recruitments made during the tenure of the previous board president, Manik Bhattacharya, lacked transparency. Bhattacharya has been arrested on charges of irregularities in appointments. “We did not get jobs because of his corrupt practices. We deserve to be recruited without having to appear in any more interview,”  said Achintya Prasad Samanta, from the 2014 batch. Their demand that they be allowed to skip the interview has stoked fears among the TET 2017 candidates who want to appear in the interview and get jobs following the due process.

Policemen from the Bidhannagar commissionerate tried to ensure that the two groups did not clash and asked those who had written TET 2017 to move back. The men and women from the 2017 batch then squatted on the same flank of the artery that has been blocked by the other group since Monday. The cops ensured that the groups were at least 200m away from each other. Till late on Thursday, both groups were squatting on the Sector V-bound road.

Last updated on 21.10.22, 07:08 AM
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