West Bengal Teachers’ Eligibility Test (TET) candidates, who claim to have qualified in past exams but yet to get the job of primary school teachers, on Wednesday blocked a key road in south Kolkata demanding immediate recruitment. TET is the minimum qualification required for appointment as teachers in the primary classes (Classes 1-5) and upper primary (Classes 6-8) sections of government schools.
A Kolkata Police officer said 100 protesters were taken into custody as they blocked the Asutosh Mukherjee Road-Hazra Road crossing at around 1:30 pm and refused to move from the spot despite being asked to do so by the law enforcers. The protesters alleged they were manhandled by police personnel and pushed to the ground. However, the officer denied the charge, saying the police exercised restraint despite provocation by the candidates.
The police had to clear the busy thoroughfare to maintain the traffic flow, the officer said. Kaushik Saha, a protestor, said, “We had qualified in the examination and interview in 2014 but have not received appointment letters. This is a question of our life and death.” Debarshi Banik, another protester, alleged not 50-100 but over a thousand TET eligible candidates had been ignored for recruitment while those having scored lesser marks got jobs.
“We will not rest till we get justice,” she said. Amid the ongoing CBI probe into school teachers’ recruitment scam, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said in the state assembly on Monday “We have tried to create jobs unlike those who go to court to ensure people are sacked. We have given jobs to nearly one lakh people (in the school education department). Of them, there can be 50-100 cases where mistakes have been made.”
BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar and Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari had expressed solidarity with the agitators alleging they were deprived of their legitimate jobs by the government who violated all rules to recruit candidates from the families of Trinamool Congress loyalists’ for jobs in teachers posts. TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh had slammed the opposition for doing politics over the issue “and instigating the protests” while asserting if there was any irregularity the appointment, that will be addressed by the government.