Many injured in lathi charge, tear gas shelling on 10,323 assembly march

Agartala: A scuffle between Police and the sacked Tripura teachers at Agartala’s Kunjaban (Circuit House) area left several ex-teachers injured. The TSR and the CRPF troops resorted to lathi charge and tear gas shelling on the “assembly march” organised by the retrenched teachers.

Around a thousand protestors gathered in front of the Rabindra Satabrshiki Bhavan and took out a rally that was supposed to reach the in-session Legislative Assembly for a mass deputation with their demand of getting reinstated. However, the police put up barricades in front of the Kunjaban circuit house area to stop the rally.

The protesting teachers tried to breach the barricade overpowering the police and security forces which led to a scuffle which eventually ended when water cannons and tear gas shells were fired at the protesting retrenched teachers. The police also resorted to the Lathi charge to disperse the agitators. However, many people including women suffered injuries during the scuffle.

One of the leading voices of the 10,323 movement, Dalia Das said, “This is the last assembly session before the elections. The main motive of the assembly march was to once again plead with the government to reinstate in service. We wanted to request all the Ministers and MLAs to kindly consider our demand as we have no fault in whatever injustice meted out against us. But, we are surprised to see, instead of listening to our grievances, police have resorted to lathi charge and tear gas shelling. We did not use any force from our end but when we reached here we saw a huge security build-up waiting to greet us with lathis, tear gas shells and water cannons”.

The incident, however, also sparked a heated argument between treasury and opposition benches inside the Assembly with Leader of the Opposition Manik Sarkar terming the police action on 10,323 teachers as a “misuse of power.”

“If the 10,323 teachers wanted to talk to the Ministers and MLAs present in the assembly, what is wrong? In a democratic state, we expect that grievances of all sections would be given a patient hearing. Whatever has happened with the 10,323 teachers today has no difference with the police brutality on protesting students and youth on September 15 last,” Sarkar said, drawing the notice of Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha at the beginning of the first half.

According to the leader of the opposition, 32 protesting teachers have sustained minor injuries due to the police action. “Three ex-teachers identified as Mitali Deb, Rinku Sarkar and Bikash Sarkar have been admitted to GBP hospital for treatment due to severity of injuries. They didn’t want to attack the assembly house. A delegation of the agitators could have been invited for talks in the assembly. To avoid facing them, such kind of ill-treatment demands widespread condemnation,” he added.

Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha while reacting to Sarkar’s aggressive statement said, “This is not the first time they are seeking time from the state government. We have talked to them on several occasions. We all know the government is surrounded by several legal bindings. The Supreme Court has given a set of directions about the issue and thus this is very difficult for us to take any decision. We can’t violate the law. We are trying our best to find a solution for the 10,323 teachers following the existing laws.”

Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath, Information and Cultural Affairs Minister Sushanta Chowdhury and other saffron party MLAs wasted no time taking potshots at the opposition leaders. “The culture of using water cannons and tear gas shells is not new in Tripura. On several occasions, the Left Front government used the police force to disrupt peaceful protests,” claimed ICA Minister Sushanta Chowdhury. MLA Dr Dilip Kumar Das referred to the violent protests of Tripura Medical College.

Sarkar responding to the BJP MLA and Ministers said that barring a few, whenever protestors demanded time from the Chief Minister they were allowed to speak their mind. Earlier in the first half, Congress MLA Sudip Roy Barman raised the issue to which Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath said, “The figure 10,323 has dwindled to a little over 8,000 people. A sizable number of them are already in service as they qualified for the TET exams. We hope a good number of them will be absorbed into government services when the results of the joint recruitment board will be out. Special age relaxation was granted for the retrenched teachers in these tests for selection of Group C and Group D employees for different state government departments.” 

Also read | BJP gen secy BL Santosh slams Tripura unit’s top brass over defections


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