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10 Feb 2017

Giri claims Partha call for meet - Voluntary teachers protest against 'discrimination' in Siliguri

The voluntary teachers who came for verification in Siliguri
on Thursday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
Vivek Chhetri and Bireswar Banerjee, TT, Darjeeling, Feb. 9: Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, today said state education minister Partha Chatterjee had called him last night and asked him to come to Calcutta for a meeting on February 16 to discuss issues related with voluntary teachers in the hills.
The secondary and higher secondary government schools in the hills have over 500 voluntary teachers and a good number of them were asked to appear for verification of their testimonials in the district inspector of school's office in Siliguri from today for "wage revision".
The Morcha had alleged that only those teachers who were close to the Trinamul Congress had been called for the three-day verification.
Giri, who is also the GTA Sabha member in charge of education, said he would attend the meeting called by the minister and would make it clear that since education was a subject transferred to the GTA, the hill body should be made the appointing authority and the verification should be done in the district inspector of school's office in Darjeeling.
"If the meeting is not fruitful, we will immediately go to courts (against the government's intervention in the GTA). We have already filed a case against the state in the Supreme Court on the matter and will file another application apprising the court of the latest development. We will also file a specific case in the Calcutta High Court," said Giri. who are currently teaching in secondary and higher secondary schools in the hills. 
"Our demand is regularisation. The state government must stop politicising education in hills and everyone should be reguralised and given the same benefits irrespective of their political affiliations," said Giri. Giri had yesterday alleged that only teachers who were with the Hill Secondary Temporary Teachers' Organisation which is with Trinamul were called for the verification process while members of the Morcha affiliated Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers' Organisation was discriminated.
Today, over 40 teachers who had not received the text message to attend the verification held a meeting with Giri in Darjeeling. Another set of around 100 teachers demonstrated in front of the Siliguri DI office against the alleged discrimination by the government.
The verification is being undertaken by the education department, in the presence of senior representatives of the West Bengal Central School Service Commission. The protesters demanded that the officials also check the testimonials of those teachers who hadn't received the text messages.
Siliguri police reached the spot but situation did not spin out of control. 
The teacher further added: "I learnt from others and came here this morning. I would like to ask the department why they did not inform all of us and only some of the teachers. We suspect the department has taken a discriminatory approach."
Another teacher from Rangbul Higher Secondary School in Darjeeling, who has been working for the past eight years had a similar grievance. "They (Education department) should have called all the teachers like us, who are working for several years in hills for a nominal salary and on temporary basis, without keeping any prejudice. But unfortunately, many teachers like me did not get the text message sent by the department," he said.
Amit Gurung, president HSTTO said: "In total, testimonial of around 180 teachers were checked today. The process will continue tomorrow. A number of teachers did not get the message due to poor network of cellphones in hills. Tomorrow, we will talk with them and will also speak to the officials so that their testimonials are also verified. It would be wrong to blame the education department that has taken up an important task."
No official of the education department spoke to the media."We are only verifying their testimonials based on an order from the department. We cannot comment on the issue any further," an official said.
Chandra Bhandari, convener, JISTO said : "All we are saying is that none of the voluntary teachers should be discriminated as the government is not only for one political party but is meant to work for all."

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