Five women teachers consumed poison on 24 August outside the state government’s education department headquarters in Bikash Bhavan in Salt Lake, Kolkata. Journalist Anindya Banerjee shared a disturbing video of the teachers consuming poison.
One of the teachers who consumed poison said, with froth oozing from her mouth, they get paid Rs 10,000 a month and will find it difficult to survive on the measly amount once transferred.
Police had stopped them from forcefully entering the premises after which they consumed pesticides. They were all admitted to the NRS and RG hospitals and their stomachs flushed to remove the poison. They were declared stable by evening but were kept under observation till late night.
The five teachers are Anima Nath, Chhobi Das, Sikha Das, Putul Mondal, Joshua Tudu and Mandira Sardar, all members of the Sikshak Oikyo Mukta Mancha. They were demanding an increment of salaries of the Sishu Shiksha Kendra (SSK) and Madhyamik Shiksha Kendra (MSK) teachers, regularisation of services and revocation of transfer orders that force them to move to places far from homes.
On 24 August, the teachers were protesting outside Bikash Bhavan when four of them ingested a black liquid from a bottle and collapsed on the ground, with their mouths frothing. Bhagirath Ghosh, joint convenor of the Parsha Sikshak Oikyo Mancha, said that the state government was using “Talibani tactics” to control the agitation and demanded immediate intervention.
The teachers had demonstrated on 18 August before the state secretariat, Nabanna, which is a high-security zone. The protesting women at Sat Lake on 24 August claimed that the state government was punishing them for protesting outside the chief minister’s office.
After the incident, state Education Minister Bratya Basu rushed to the spot and met officials on the issue.
BJP spokesman Samik Bhattacharya said, “The incident shows how desperate people are getting here, especially teachers. The government is responsible. The government should look into the condition of teachers in Bengal. The government that has failed to create jobs or fill vacancies. We pray for the quick recovery of the teachers.”
Earlier this month, around 40 para-teachers had demonstrated before the official house of Basu in Kolkata to press for their job-related demands. The para-teachers, who work on contract in government-run schools, have for long been seeking salary hikes and the status of elementary teachers.