Jammu: A Hunger Strike no one’s cared about for 35 days| Temporary Teachers

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There was a hunger strike By Anna Hazaare a few years ago and it started a movement which has given rise to a political party that now rules New Delhi. Anna was on a hunger strike recently as well but other than his ardent followers the hordes and hordes of people did not collect as they did earlier.

Somewhat similar to the second case is the Hunger Strike of the temporary teachers in Jammu Division. Their Hunger strike runs into its 35th day today but to no avail. At the time of their appointment close to 10 months ago these teachers had unwillingly signed affidavits that clearly mentioned that the government does not give any assurance of REGULARIZATION. This affidavit also meant that the appointment of these teachers can be cancelled and this is exactly what the current government intends to do for temporary teachers.

If these were incompetent teachers the cancellation of their appointments is understandable matter but most of the temporary teachers on strike are are well qualified candidates with B.Ed, M.Ed, M.Phil and even PhD for degrees.

While all of the following statements can be taken as allegations, the bottom line remains that these teachers deserve an equal chance at the teaching jobs as any other equally qualified candidates. The government does not have a test in place for teachers, which gives a fair opportunity to every applying candidate. For instance, a person doing Master’s in the English Department at University of Jammu with 65 percent marks is the topper whereas in SMVDU a person with 75 Percent is the topper. The marking strictness varies at every university but final appointments for teachers happen on Merit Basis. NOT A FAIR METHOD! Read the following:

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When asked as to why are they striking when they knew at the time of appointments that they will not be regularized, President and spokesperson of the J&K Temporary Teachers Association,  Balwinder Singh said,

“You already know the high rate of unemployment in our state. Not everyone has the money to open a shop or start a business. We come from small families and any opportunity of employment becomes our only hope, even if with such extreme and indefensible terms and conditions.”

Singh Added, “We cannot repeal the cancellations of our appointments legally, but on humanitarian grounds, should not the government put a stay on the cancellations? There are people who are above 40 years of age. Where will they go if this source of livelihood is snatched away from them? Some of us are Married men and women. Their families depend on the meagre salaries they draw. Where will they go?”

Abdul Majeed, who is from Kashmir was one of the people who were recently protesting outside the residence of Education Minister. He added,

“35 ministers have visited us so far during our protests but not one has mentioned that they will actually do something for us. We have been struggling for our livelihood since January and that is also when we approached the Honourable Minister for education, Naeem Akhtar.”

“Akhtar Sahab said that he will definitely do something to resolve the matter and got the Director of Education to come for a meeting. However, after their meeting of fifteen minutes, the Director said that nothing can be done about this matter and only the vacant seats will be filled.”

Majeed lamented, “How can the minister say something and change his statement in fifteen minutes?”

Sonika Sambyal also protested, ”We are all competent candidates here and were selected on merit basis at the tehsil, panchayat and block level. When the permanent teachers get a posting to a remote area, they use influence and get their postings cancelled and remain in the city.”

“We on the other hand go wherever the government asks us to go. We are well qualified and complete the exact duty hours required of us. Our positions in the schools we were working in are anyway vacant about now. What is the government’s problem with us, I do not understand!”

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