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10 Feb 2017

GJM, JISTO threaten state govt over 'biased' verification process

File Photo of HSTTO members
EOI, DARJEELING, 9 Feb 2017: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the voluntary teachers working in various schools in the hills are up in arms against the state government over its decision to summon only a section of the teachers for document verification today to the office of the district inspector of schools in Siliguri and have threatened to take legal course as well as start an intense agitation.
GJM general secretary Roshan Giri, who is also the Sabhasad in-charge of the education department, said it was another instance of the state government overruling the autonomy of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration as education was a transferred subject.
The Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers' organisation (JISTO) called it politically motivated as only those teachers owing allegiance to the Trinamool Congress were asked to go to Siliguri for document verification today.
Giri said, “The whole exercise is political in nature. The TMC wants to increase its base in the hills and is resorting to biased means to achieve its purpose. There should not be any politics in the education system."
The GJM leader said state education minister Partha Chatterjee had called on Wednesday night and invited him to attend a meeting on February 16 in Kolkata to discuss the issue. “I reminded the minister that education was a transferred subject and demanded to know why and how the state government was overruling the GTA. He has invited me to Kolkata to discuss the issue,” Giri said.
He said legal action would be taken if all the voluntary teachers were not called for the document verification. “We will see how the February 16 meeting goes, first. A petition has already been filed in the Supreme Court against the state government in cases relating to interference, formation of community development boards, non-implementation of the three-tier panchayat system, and non compliance to the GTA agreement and act, among others. We will attach a new petition and also file a separate case in the high court in this regard,” Giri said.
At present there are 515 voluntary teachers serving in 129 junior, high and higher secondary schools in the hills as the School Service Commission (SSC) is defunct since 2003. These teachers have been demanding regularisation since 2009 and even staged an agitation that included pen down strikes.
Vivek Newar, general secretary of the JISTO, warned of unrest in the hills if the state government resorted to partiality. “We have given our prime time serving voluntarily. Now when we are seeing a ray of hope, the state government is politicising the issue by being biased. We want either all (515) of us be regularised or none. Why have only those owing allegiance to the TMC been called for the document verification today?” he asked. “If this process is not put on hold, we will be compelled to agitate and that could lead to unrest in the hills. The state government will have to take the blame,” he said.
Tara Kharel, who has been a voluntary teacher for over 17 years in Goke High School in Bijanbari block of Darjeeling sub-division, said, “There are at least two to three teachers that I have taught who are getting their documents verified in Siliguri today but I have not been called. This is just because I am with JISTO while they have accepted the TMC flag,” he alleged.
Even though senior officials refused to comment, sources said as per instructions from Kolkata, the DI of schools today verified the documents of 180 voluntary teachers from the total of 307 listed. It is learnt that the verification process will continue till February 11.
Meanwhile, senior members of the Hill Secondary Temporary Teachers' organisation (HSTTO), which is affiliated to the TMC, did not respond to calls.

GTA Slams Teachers' Regularisation Process, Threatens To Go To Court

Amitava Banerjee, Millenium Post, Darjeeling: Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) cried foul as the process to regularise the voluntary teachers of schools in the GTA area was initiated by the state government on Thursday. 

While GTA has threatened to drag the West Bengal Government to court, the temporary teachers association affiliated to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM- the party in power in the Hills) has warned the government of  a widespread agitation. Hill Secondary Temporary Teacher's Organisation affiliated to the TMC has demanded that the recruitment process should continue.

Partha Chatterjee, state Education Minister has called the GTA to Kolkata on February 16 for talks to resolve the impasse.

The voluntary teachers are temporary teachers engaged in various schools in the GTA area. They are appointed and paid by the Managing Committee of the schools.

Around 515 adhoc teachers under the banner of Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers' Organisation (JISTO affiliated to the GJM)  have been agitating for the past one year demanding immediate regularisation. The agitation included dharnas, hunger strikes and cease work. Later, a large number of teachers affiliated to the JISTO broke away and crossed over to the Trinamool Congress. They then formed the Hill Secondary Temporary Teachers' Organisation (HSTTO.)

During her recent visit to the Hills, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had assured that the process for the regularising the voluntary teachers would soon be initiated by the state government. 

Accordingly, many of the teachers received calls for a document verification (as part of the process) to commence from Thursday in Siliguri while others claimed that they have not received any calls.

The GJM-led GTA alleged that the whole process is politically motivated and teachers affiliated to the TMC are getting calls. 

"Education is a transferred subject to the GTA from the state. How is the state government conducting the process? Why is it being conducted in Siliguri? This is infringement upon the powers and functions of the GTA — a clear violation of the GTA Agreement and the Act," retorted Roshan Giri, the GTA executive member in charge of Education.

Sources stated that 307 out of the 515 teachers have been called for document verification at the District Inspector of Schools' (DI) office in Siliguri. Out of this, the process was completed for 180 teachers on Thursday and will continue on Friday also.

"Minister Partha Chatterjee called me last evening (Wednesday). He has called for a meeting in Kolkata on February 16. I will be attending with two representatives of JISTO. We will tell him clearly that the GTA should be allowed to conduct the process in Darjeeling. Already, the GTA had recruited 269 primary teachers in 2012. If the process is initiated, it should be done impartially.

As it concerns the GTA, it should be in Darjeeling and not in Siliguri. If the meeting fails to resolve the issue, we will take the state government to court," warned Giri.

The GTA has already filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court against the Bengal government for allegedly not following the GTA Agreement and the Act in letter and spirit and for infringing upon the powers and functions of the GTA.

"We will attach this issue with the Supreme Court case and also file a fresh writ petition in the Calcutta High Court," added Giri. JISTO too, has threatened widespread agitation.

"The teachers who own allegiance to the GJM have been  left out from the regularisation process. The on-going process should be halted till all teachers are incorporated in the process. If the government fails to do so, we will launch a widespread agitation. As it is a matter of our livelihood, we are ready to go to any extent," threatened Vivek Newar, General Secretary, JISTO.

HSTTO affiliated to the TMC has alleged that the GJM is trying to stall the process for their own political gains. 

"The process has been initiated and it should be allowed to continue. Some teachers have got calls and they should not be deprived of 
being regularised. The others will definitely get calls too as this is a phase-wise process. We will communicate to the government the details of the teachers left out," stated Amit Gurung, Secretary, HSTTO.

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