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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Kolkata police roughs up & detains TET-qualified job aspirants protesting peacefully for teaching appointments

In a new low, the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal is now sending the state police to assault aspiring teachers. The administration is facing flak for unemployment and corruption in government job appointments. Jobs have been drying up in West Bengal for decades now, and educated Bengalis have continuously crowded NCR and other prosperous cities in the south and west of the country for a livelihood. The situation has worsened under the TMC regime.

Unfortunately, despite having no dearth of talent or skill, the state not only lacks jobs in the private sector, but this government has also messed up the govt job recruitment process and is now resorting to violence on honest and rightful job applicants after they staged peaceful protests. 

The former WB education minister Partha Chatterjee was arrested by ED in July for the mass irregularities in the West Bengal School Service Commission (WBSSC) recruitment process. At the time of his arrest, Chatterjee was the Industries and Commerce Minister and secretary-general of Trinamool Congress. Over Rs 100 crore in cash, gold and other assets was seized from him and his close ‘aide’ Arpita Mukherjee. Later, central agencies made more arrests in this scam – like former West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) president Kalyanmoy Gangopadhyay, and vice- chancellor of the University of North Bengal, Subiresh Bhattacharya, who is also the former chairman of WBSSC.

Now, its likely that a similar scam has taken place in teacher appointments by the West Bengal Board of Primary Education (WBBPE).

Job aspirants who had cleared the 2014 Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) have been protesting peacefully at the Karunamoyee WBBPE office. Demanding recruitment and appointment letters after clearing the TET exams in 2014, the protesters had sat on an indefinite fast at the site. Some protesters had even fallen ill during the fasting. 

In the intervening night of October 21-22, Bidhannagar police not only forcibly removed the job aspirants from the area, but they unleashed violence on the peacefully fasting protesters and stuffed them in police vans. Section 144 has been imposed in the area. 

Despite qualifying in the TET exams eight years ago, these job aspirants have not received their appointment. The WBBPE has now mandated that the 500-odd candidates reappear for the exams. In their defense, they claim that the validity of the appointment panel of 2014 has already expired. Annoyed by the absolute apathy of the state administration, the candidates started a sit-in-protest on October 17, demanding the immediate issuance of their appointment letters. Around 90 hours after the start of their protest, they were roughed up by the Kolkata cops and hurled into police vans.

Leader of Opposition and BJP minister Suvendu Adhikari shared disturbing visuals of the state’s suppression of the genuine demands by qualified candidates.

Speaking to The Indian Express, a protestor, Paromita Pal shared, “We do not want to appear in new exams as announced by the state education department. We should be appointed in state-run and state-aided schools per the previous merit list.”

“We don’t want to be a part of the new requirement process. We want appointment letters immediately. Our movement will continue till we get it,” she added.

Another candidate revealed, “There were immense irregularities in the recruitment of teachers in the primary section. How will we know that we were not unfairly rejected in the previous recruitment process to suit the interest of those who scored less? Therefore, there is no question of turning back.”

On the other hand, in his statement on October 18, the President of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education, Goutam Pal reiterated that the protesting candidates would have to reappear for TET to be held this year. He alleged that the protestors had ‘failed the interviews twice’. Therefore, they could not be appointed as teachers. He also added that the West Bengal government might allow an ‘age relaxation’ to the protesting candidates, but they will need to appear for a fresh cycle of the recruitment process.

Pal stated, “Those having qualified the TET in the past ten years or so are eligible to participate in the future recruitment process. If the government relaxes the age limit for candidates who had qualified the written test earlier, then those having crossed 40 years may sit for the exam again.”

“The board would request the candidates not to disrupt a fair TET recruitment process or go against the interests of other job aspirants. I will urge the people who are instigating the candidates not to disrupt a fair recruitment process,” he concluded.

As per reports, a panel was formed to interview and appoint successful candidates. Yet, even those candidates who cleared the interviews were denied appointment letters. To this, WBBPE’s fresh claims of tenure expiry is liking adding salt to the injury of these job aspirants. 

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