After 20 long years, teachers’ patience and persistence pays off

Bhopal: It took 20 years, but their patience and persistence paid off. The teachers, who so far were working under Panchayat Department, will now work as regular teachers under the education department. Intensifying their protests, recently several teachers, including four women, tonsured their heads demanding that the state government include them in the education department as regular teachers and provided them facilities given to government employees. The tonsure’ protest which spread to many parts of the state, not only gave a new fillip to their agitation but also brought it to the notice of lakhs of people across the country, forcing the government to seriously take note of the matter.

Their agitation that lasted for around 20 years saw many ups and downs. Pressing for their demands, the teachers had held many demonstrations and took out protest rallies. On many occasions, the protesting teachers were driven out from Bhopal. In one of the protests, police had resorted to lathi-charge to drive them out from Yadgar-e-Shahjahani Park in September 2015. The then Leader of Opposition in the Vidhan Sabha, Satyadev Katare and Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia had condemned the lathi-charge on protesting school teachers. Katare had even visited the site to meet with teachers who faced police brutality.

Cornering the state government, four women teachers –Shilpi Siwan (Mhow), Seema Kshirsagar (Alirajpur), Archana Sharma (Jabalpur) and Renuka Sagar (Raisen) had got their heads tonsured at Jamboori, BHEL, on January 14, 2018 in protest against lethargic attitude of state government towards their demands. The government had faced a lot of flak over the incident. Government was also criticized as teachers had to pay Rs 1.5 lakh rent for using BHEL ground as the government had denied allotting them any site to hold their protest.

Many organisations extended their support to the protesting teachers. Students of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, a premier Institution for promoting Sanskrit studies in India, got their heads tonsured in solidarity with the protesting teachers. The protests have opposition Congress a stick to beat the government. The partly men also shaved off their head to make point that they too were in support of the demands of the teachers. Similar kind of agitations spread overnight to other parts of the states such as Gwalior and Sagar.

In fact, Azad Adhyapak Sangh had organized a rally at BHEL, Dussehra Maidan in October 2017. On the assurance of the DPI officials that in November chief minister will convene a Panchayat to look into their demands. Following the assurance, the protest was called off. However, nothing concrete happened in the coming months.