Bengal teacher exam aspirants not to end hunger strike
Kolkata: Over 400 successful candidates in West Bengal's School Service Commission (SSC) examination, sitting on a hunger strike over the last 26 days in the heart of the city to demand immediate filling of vacancies in the state schools, on Monday said they would continue their agitation until their demands are "adequately addressed" by the Trinamool Congress government.
The candidates, who began their indefinite hunger strike on February 28 in front of the Kolkata Press Club on Mayo Road, also urged the state government to publish the full list of candidates who qualified in the SSC examination along with the details of marks obtained by them and notify the exact number of vacancies for teachers in the state-run schools.
Nearly 80 agitators, many of them women, have fallen ill while two would-be mothers suffered miscarriage and two more persons got infected by dengue during the hunger strike that is continuing for nearly a month, they claimed.
"Today is the 26th day of our agitation. I have qualified in the SSC exam in 2016 in both written test and interview, but haven't received any recruitment call so far. We want that the recruitment should start immediately," Anindita Jana, a Political Science graduate from East Midnapore district, told IANS.
She also called for transparency in the merit list.
"Also, the merit list published by the state government should contain the academic score and examination score mentioned and the vacancies in different schools till 15 days prior to our interview, should be updated. We will continue this strike until the government accepts our demands," she said adding that many of the agitators are suffering from dehydration due to excessive heat as police are not allowing them to erect any temporary shade over the premises.
State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee has already held three rounds of meetings with the agitators and formed a five-member expert committee headed by Education Secretary Manish Jain to look into the grievances of the teaching aspirants.
Chatterjee has said that reply will be processed within 15 days but the agitators sounded far from convinced by the verbal assurance and vowed to continue the hunger strike.
"The Education Minister came here on the third day and sought one month time from us to look into the problems. Now we are on the 26th day of agitation, so one month is nearly over. He has given us verbal assurance but we are not satisfied with that. We will continue our protests till we get a written assurance," said Ashmita Das, another qualified candidate from West Bardhaman district.
A number of leaders from topposition political parties including Left Front Chairman Biman Bose, CPI-M leader Sujan Chakraborty, BJP's National Secretary Rahul Sinha and former Trinamool student union leader turend BJP joineee Shankudeb Panda have already met the protesters and urged the Bengal government to look into the issue.
Former teachers and educational administrators have also joined the hunger strike.
"We have come here to be with them and express our solidarity. We support their demands. Hope that the Education Department and those in charge of the SSC would come to some conclusion," Alok Banerjee, former Vice Chancellor of Kalyani University, told IANS.
"In any recruitment policy, transparency is the main thing. The full list of candidates who got selected in the entrance test should be published in public domain along with the complete details of the marks obtained in entrance tests.
"However, the candidates here are receiving individual SMS regarding their selection and are being asked to collect their appointment letters. Such an arbitrary selection process should stop. It is a faulty process and it should be changed," he added.