Shillong: A day after agitating contractual teachers of state-run schools in Meghalaya, who lost their jobs two years ago, were lathi-charged by the police and stopped from trying to enter the secretariat in Shillong, education minister Lahkmen Rymbui on Friday made it clear that their demands for reinstatement or regularisation would not be met.
Rymbui, however, assured the agitating teachers that “age condonation” will be given to them so they can reappear for the Meghalaya Teacher Eligibility Test (MTET).
Over 800 contractual teachers were terminated two years ago after they failed to clear the Meghalaya Teachers Eligibility Test (MTET), and have been protesting since under the banner of the Meghalaya Government Lower Primary Contractual Teachers’ Association (MGLPCTA).
The teachers on Thursday were holding demonstrations outside the main gate of the secretariat, demanding that they be given their jobs back, when the situation escalated. Police allegedly lathi-charged some of the protesters and hurled tear gas shells as they tried to enter the state secretariat building.
The protesters were accompanied by their family members, including children, during the fracas. Among the agitators were many pregnant women.
Rymbui, who is also the Home Minister, has sought a report from the District Administration on the sequence of events that led to the alleged police action on Thursday.
“Section 144 was imposed and the teachers did not have permission to march forward. So, I have sought a report and will have to act accordingly,” said Rymbui.
After Rymbui’s announcement on Friday that the government would not regularise the teaching jobs, the protesting teachers said they’ll continue to agitate in front of secretariat.
The police action drew severe criticism from different social organisations, with the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) seeking action against those responsible for issuing such an order.
Chief Secretary DP Wahlang wanted to meet the protesters but they turned down the offer, an official said.
MGLPCTA leader Birbor Riangtem said they have met Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma seven times to discuss their issue but to no avail.
“He even chased us away from his room. Therefore, we don’t want to meet the government as they will only fool us. Sangma had assured us that he would examine our demand but there has been no positive outcome even after two years,” he said.
Riangtem said they are not willing to meet the chief secretary as he had “also fooled us with his words”.
“Our clear message to the government is that if they want us to call off this agitation, they should come up with an order to reinstate our services,” he added.
Riangtem, who was injured in the melee, was accompanied by his two sons.
“My children want to go to school, but I have no job for two years, how will I provide education to them? That is why my family has come here to support me,” he said.
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