GANGTOK: The All Sikkim Adhoc Teachers and Temporary Employees Association (ASATTEA) has urged terminated teachers in the state to call off their protest during a meeting they held on September 7. However, the latter rejected their appeal and termed it “a tactic of the SKM government to counter their protest”.

Tuesday evening saw a heated exchange between the two teacher groups that failed to provide any solution. On Wednesday, the ASATTEA held a press conference at the office of the Journalist Union of Sikkim and appealed to the protesting teachers to come forth to exchange dialogues.

They later called representatives from the terminated teachers to come for a amicable dialogue without any media presence. The outcome of the meetings is yet to be announced.

At the press conference, the association said, “We have also struggled long and hard to ensure that adhoc teachers get regularised. Some of us have struggled for 22 years. We have also held protests and dharnas but have learned that it isn’t a solution; we just ended up having a bad relationship with the previous government. Hence, we urge the protesting teachers to engage in dialogue with the government; we can ensure that a solution will be provided.”

Speaking very highly of the current SKM government and how the new government of just 2.5 years has come up with the policy for recruitment for all adhoc teachers after 8 years of service, ASATTEA member Ashish Lepcha said, “The previous government victimised us. We lost years of our service as adhoc appointees. It is only now with the new government that we have reached a solution which benefits not just us but even the protesting teachers.”

Stressing on weightage being given to teachers with experience, the ASATTEA said, “We verbally assure the protesting teachers that dialogue will result in a solution. We’ve had multiple meetings with the education department raising their concerns and those of other adhoc teachers. We will ensure that we will mediate but that can only happen if they call off their strike. It is creating a bad image of the government and they will not take it lightly if it continues.”

However, the protesting adhoc teachers questioned the association members and said, “Where were you when we reached out to you for your help since June. To come here and declare that our protest will not reap any result is very demotivating. You are here to speak on behalf of the government. If you are so concerned about us or the image of the current government, then you must ensure that the government comes to us and gives us in writing that we will get our extension.” The protesting teachers demanded justice and said they “are the ones who have already cleared the interview”.

Accusing the protesting terminated teachers of playing the “sentimental card”, ASATTEA’s Rajesh Dahal stated, “The protest is an attempt at bringing the government to its knees. There are opposition parties trying to make the most out of this deadlock. The sentimental card on students being deprived of education is wrong on part of the teachers. Due to COVID-19, about 80 per cent of the students are suffering at this moment and not just those whom these teachers were teaching.”

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