Besides 1,621 primary teachers, 425 secondary teachers died of COVID following poll duty, claims a teachers’ assocn in UP

The Uttar Pradesh Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh has claimed that 425 secondary teachers and staffers died of coronavirus following poll duty. Meanwhile, CM Yogi Adityanath has given instructions to amend the guidelines to include time-bound “effective rehabilitation and adequate compensation”.

Gaon Connection
| Updated: May 21st, 2021

Workers during vote counting on May 2 at a centre in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh. All photos: By arrangement

After a state level teachers’ association asserted that at least 1,621 primary teachers of the basic education department died of COVID19 following the poll duty for the panchayat elections, another teachers’ association in Uttar Pradesh has claimed 425 additional deaths of teachers/staffers from the secondary education department. This takes the total alleged death toll to 2,046.

In a letter dated May 19 to Chief Minister (CM) Yogi Adityanath, Suresh Kumar Tripathi, member of the legislative council and a leader of the teachers’s association, informed that 425 teachers and staffers of the secondary education department had succumbed to the virus following poll duty and training in the recently held panchayat elections in the state.

“Due to the short-sightedness of the election commission, 425 government staffers have died between the training and vote counting exercise. So far, no government help has reached these people,” reads the letter signed by Suresh Kumar Tripathi and Druv Kumar Tripathi, members of the legislative council. They have sent this letter to the CM on behalf of the Uttar Pradesh Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh, a state level teachers’ association of secondary teachers.

The letter dated May 19 was sent to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Gaon Connection was unable to independently verify the assertion by the teachers’ association. Despite several efforts, Suresh Kumar Tripathi was unavailable to comment and all his contact numbers remained unanswered.

Two days back, the minister of state for basic education, Satish Chandra Dwivedi, had called the assertion of deaths of the 1,621 teachers ‘completely wrong and baseless’. He claimed that only three teachers have died during the poll duty. As per the existing guidelines, the duration of election duty is considered only from the time the employee leaves home to reach the election training centre, polling booth or counting centre, and then returns home after the duty.

Satish Chandra Dwivedi, issued a press statement saying only three teachers had died of COVID during poll duty.

Also Read: Only 3 teachers died on panchayat poll duty, says Basic Education Dept, UP. Teachers’ assocn to step up protest

Moreover, the state government claims it was forced to hold panchayat elections in a raging second wave of COVID19. On April 25, in a press statement, the state government had blamed the Allahabad High Court for forcing it to hold the panchayat elections: “Contrary to the misinformation campaign against the Yogi government, the decision to conduct the elections of the Gram Panchayats stemmed from the directions of the Allahabad High Court to the Government of the State of Uttar Pradesh.”

The teachers’ associations have demanded Rs 10 million compensation each to the families of the deceased.

Yesterday, May 20, CM Adityanath chaired a high level review meeting and gave instructions to Chief Secretary and ACS Panchayati Raj to coordinate with the State Election Commission (SEC) and request the Commission to amend the guidelines, in a manner as deemed fit. According to the SEC guidelines, the government will give compensation and job to one family member of every teacher, Shikshamitra, rozgar sewak, police personnel and every employee who died during election duty or who got infected with COVID-19 during that period leading to their demise later.

While addressing the issue, the CM said, “Currently, the guidelines of the Election Commission do not cover the impact caused by COVID-19 (being the unforeseeable future, retrospectively) within their ambit. Therefore, to address the current situation, the guidelines need to be amended keeping a sympathetic approach.”

The amendments proposed include effective rehabilitation (including employment opportunities) and adequate compensation being provided to the members of the family of the deceased (COVID-19 patient) within a specific time frame.

Also Read: UP govt says 3 teachers died during poll duty. Teachers’ assocn claims 1,621 dead. What is the controversy? Details here