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‘We Were Beaten Mercilessly’: Tripura’s Terminated Teachers

The Tripura High Court terminated a total of 10,323 school teachers due to their faulty recruitment process in 2014.

Published
Education
3 min read

Video Producer: Saradha Natarajan
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj

A sit-in staged by teachers in Tripura turned violent on 27 January as the Tripura state government apprehending a law and order situation imposed Section 144 for 24 hours.

It has been over 11 months since more than 10,000 teachers lost their jobs in Tripura. The Tripura High Court in 2014 passed an order to terminate a total of 10,323 school teachers stating a faulty recruitment process. The order was then upheld by Supreme Court which stated that the teachers can take the retirement by 31 December 2017, but then the government made them work on an ad hoc basis till March 2020 stating less number of teachers in school.

Teachers Protesting outside Citi-centre in Agartala.
Teachers Protesting outside Citi-centre in Agartala.
(Photo Courtesy: Tanmoy Chakraborty)

Targeting a Silent Protest

The teachers formed a joint forum comprising three separate organisations – Justice for 10323, Amra 10323 and All Tripura Ad Hoc Teachers’ Association – to protest in Agartala. They started an indefinite sit-in from 7 December 2020.

The former teachers demand a direct employment  without any recruitment process. 
“We met Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on 3 October asking for a permanent solution. He assured that he will give us a permanent solution in two months’ time.”
Dalia Das, Teacher
Teachers detained by the police. 
Teachers detained by the police. 
(Photo Courtesy: Tanmoy Chakraborty)

The silent protest continued till Day 51. On 27 January when the teachers decided to march till the Residential office of the chief minister, the police citing “undemocratic protests” lathi-charged teachers.

“We were given only five minutes by the police officials to clear the place. It is impossible for 10,000 people to evacuate the place in such a short span of time. As the time went by, the situation got tense and therefore, the police personnel brutally attacked us and we were beaten mercilessly.”
Dipankar Debbarma, Teacher
Police used Tear gas, Water cannon against the protesting teachers.
Police used Tear gas, Water cannon against the protesting teachers.
(Photo Courtesy: Tanmoy Chakraborty)

The silent protest turned violent when the police detained more than 200 teachers and over 100 were injured during the riot. The police used lathi charge, tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets against the teachers.

“Many teachers were detained forcibly by the police and taken to Tripura State Rifles camps near. We are not criminals. Why did the government use force?”
Kamal Deb, Teacher
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More than 100 injured in the riot. 
More than 100 injured in the riot. 
(Photo Courtesy: Tanmoy Chakraborty)

Protesting the police action, a large section of the teachers headed towards the chief minister’s official residence, following which police tried to disperse them. More than 70 teachers and 17 police officials were injured. The injured teachers and the police personnel were admitted to the Agartala Medical College and Hospital and Indira Gandhi Memorial hospital in Agartala.

“Biplab Deb must give an answer. Is it a humanitarian government or is he an animal? The fire which started in Tripura will not be extinguished.”
Name Withheld, Teacher

Government’s Response

Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath stated that over 4,000 vacancies have been created in various departments with relaxation for the former teachers to appear. 

The Tripura government has created a common recruitment rule with an upper age limit for the teachers to appear for Group C and Group D recruitment. The teachers can appear for the exam along with the other unemployed youth for a government posting.

“The demand from teachers for direct employment is not possible. The High Court and Supreme Court have nullified their recruitment process as a Teacher and we have no scope for reappointing them as teacher.”
Ratan Lal Nath, Education Minister, Tripura

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