Patna News : Thousands of aspirants, who had qualified the Secondary Teachers’ Eligibility Test (STET) — held thrice between 2011 and 2019 — and Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET) — held twice since 2011 — have been demanding their recruitment for years.
The Bihar police baton-charged and used water cannons in Patna on Monday when hundreds of protesters, including many teachers’ recruitment aspirants, hit the streets in the heart of the city demanding jobs, leading to deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav ordering a probe into the police action.
Thousands of aspirants, who had qualified the Secondary Teachers’ Eligibility Test (STET) — held thrice between 2011 and 2019 — and Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET) — held twice since 2011 — have been demanding their recruitment for years. The government earlier this year also assured to carry out another recruitment drive to appoint 165,000 teachers, but aspirants are unhappy over the continued delay.
The education department attributes the delay to “lack of eligible candidates” in keeping with the reservation roster and requirement in different subjects, leading to vacant posts, as it happened earlier this year when only 42,000 teachers could be appointed against around 91,000 vacancies. “Besides, there have been delays due to Covid-19 disruptions and court cases,” said a senior official, requesting anonymity.
Patna district magistrate (DM) Chandrashekhar Singh said trouble erupted at the Dak Bungalow crossing where a large group of protesters, including teachers’ eligibility test qualified candidates, gathered and tried to proceed towards the Raj Bhavan, a couple of km away.
“It was a huge crowd that could not have been allowed to proceed beyond Dak Bungalow crossing,” the DM said. “Mild use of force was resorted to as they refused to disperse despite an offer that a five-member delegation can visit the Raj Bhavan along with a magistrate and submit a memorandum.”
Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) MS Dhillon also said the police tried to stop the aspirants from entering the prohibited area. “But when they still marched ahead, police had to resort to lathi-charge,” he added.
Meanwhile, a video clip of ADM (law & order) KK Singh raining blows on a protester lying on the ground while holding aloft a Tricolour went viral on social and electronic media.
Condemning the incident, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader and deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav announced that a probe has been ordered into the police action on teacher aspirants.
“This should not have happened. There was no need for that, as this government is here to listen to everyone and act. I have met teacher aspirants also,” Yadav told reporters. “I have talked to the district magistrate and a committee has been formed to get to the bottom of it. Action will be taken on the basis of the report.”
He also appealed to the protesting aspirants and said the all vacancies in the state will be filled. “The teacher aspirants also need to understand that things are being organised. All the vacancies will be filled.”
In a statement, the Patna DM said the visual of the ADM (law & order) KK Singh beating up the protester lying on the ground with a Tricolour in his hand was prima facie “highly objectionable”. “Taking a serious view of it, the deputy development commissioner and city SP have been asked to submit their inquiry report within two days so that further action can be taken,” the statement said.
Earlier, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) slammed the police action on protesting aspirants and alleged that the Mahagathbandhan government was backing away from its promises of giving two million jobs and “using force to silence the youth”.
“This is not the way to deal with teacher aspirants demanding recruitment. Deputy CM had promised 10 lakh (1 million) jobs in the very first cabinet after assuming power. This is what happens when political parties promise moon and later back out,” said BJP state president Sanjay Jaiswal. “Still, the larger issue is why the teacher aspirants be treated like this. The authorities should have talked to them. The way the ADM beat up a youth lying on the ground with Tricolour reflected the mindset of the officialdom.”
The deputy chief minister hit back, saying: “BJP is today shedding crocodile tears while it destroyed two years of the government.”
Chief minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) severed ties with the BJP-led NDA on August 9 and joined hands with the RJD and the Congress to form the Mahagathbandhan government a day later.
Soon after the video of the ADM raining blows on a protester went viral, the Hindustani Awam Morcha, a constituent of the ruling coalition in the state, demanded a high-level probe into the incident.
“Despite government’s assurance of 20-lakh (2 million) jobs who misled students into (holding) the protest march needs to be found out,” said party spokesperson Danish Rizwan. “HAM urges the CM to identify the officer involved in beating up teacher aspirants and take action against him.”
Bihar has huge vacancies of teachers, with thousands of schools running without adequate working strength. Hundreds of schools were upgraded to higher secondary level without having adequate infrastructure and teachers’ strength, but the recruitment exercise has been very slow. In the previous recruitment drives, the government could not get teachers for important subjects and even the positions of head masters and head teachers in schools remain vacant. Only 3.22% aspirants who applied in the first-ever TET conducted by the Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) this year could qualify, exposing the quality of education in the state. Against the 6,421 vacancies released for the post of head masters, only 421 could qualify.
“When the government can publish board results for lakhs of students within a couple of months, why has the teachers’ recruitment become an endless exercise despite existing vacancies?” asked a protesting aspirant requesting anonymity. “What kind of education the state government wants to give its students without teachers?”
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