Two days after a state level teachers’ association sent a list to CM Yogi Adityanath of 1,621 teachers who, it claimed, died of COVID due to panchayat poll duty, the basic education department has said only 3 teachers have died. The association says it will soon release an updated list of the dead teachers and workers.
Vote counting at a centre in rural Uttar Pradesh. Photo: By arrangement
In sharp contrast to the assertions by a state-level teachers’ association that 1,621 government teachers died of COVID-19 following panchayat elections’ poll duty, the Uttar Pradesh Basic Education Department has issued a statement that only three teachers died during the poll duty.
As per the press note dated May 18, 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.
“Based on these guidelines of the state election commission, the district magistrates have so far sent a list of only three dead teachers… Families of these dead teachers would be compensated,” reads the press note. It also appeals the people not to believe ‘rumours’ or unverified news on the subject matter.
The press note of the Basic Education Department has led to an uproar in the Uttar Pradesh Prathmik Shikshak Sangh, a state level teachers’ association, which wrote to the state Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on May 16 sharing a list of 1,621 government teachers who, it claimed, had died of COVID during the poll duty.
“Isse bada ghotala dekha hai apne? [Have you ever seen such a scam?] Our people have died. Will we just sit and watch? They were our members. Won’t we take responsibility for their families? Dinesh Chandra Sharma, president of the Uttar Pradesh Prathmik Shikshak Sangh, told Gaon Connection. “We will continue our fight till they get their rights. If necessary, we will come on roads,” he added.
On April 25, the state government had blamed the Allahabad High Court for forcing it to hold the panchayat elections. In a press statement, the state government said: “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.”
As per the government rules, if a person leaves for election duty from home and comes back from duty and dies of COVID, then only the deceased is supposed to get the compensation. “But if somebody contracts the virus, shows symptoms and dies after ten to fifteen days, then no compensation. Do officials expect the person to die immediately?” Sharma lashed out.
According to him, these 1,621 deaths are just of teachers from the basic shiksha [basic education] department. “Soon a list will be prepared of workers, teachers from secondary education, higher education, and bankers. The government has realised that the list is long. So, will be the compensation money,” said Sharma.
The association has demanded a compensation of Rs 1 crore each [Rs 10 million] to the families of the deceased.
Amid the raging second wave of COVID19, panchayat elections were held in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh. The four-phased panchayat polls were held from April 15 to 29, and results were declared on May 2.
On April 29, the teachers’ association had informed that at least 706 teachers/workers died in the state after allegedly contracting the coronavirus infection during training and panchayat poll duty in April. The latest list now puts the death toll at 1,621.
In a tweet, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the general secretary of the All India Congress Committee has called the state government ‘insensitive’ towards the teachers deaths.