Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Nayagarh, Nov 17:
In a shocking incident that speaks volumes about the abysmal state of teachers in Odisha, a lowly paid ganashikshak (auxilary teacher) of Nayagarh district committed suicide on Saturday after failing to buy a new pair of dress for his daughter on the occasion of ‘prathamastami,, an annual festival observed in Odisha in honour of the eldest child born to a couple.
Surendra Kumar Satapathy (40), a ganasikshyak hailing from Dianpada village in Bhatasahi panchayat of Nayagarh block in the same district, was reportedly under great mental stress because of his low earnings and a family of five..
The insistence of his only daughter Khushi, a student of class I, to buy her a pair of dress on the occasion of ‘prathamastami’, proved to be the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back for Surendra.
Failing to buy one, Surendra allegedly committed suicide by consuming sleeping pills, according to Anupam Mohapatra, Surendra’s wife.
She said a new pair of dress for her daughter, which was supposed to come from her brother’s (child’s maternal uncle) place, had not arrived for some reason and Khushi had insisted on wearing a new pair of dress on the occasion.
On the fateful day, Surendra had gone out of his home to attend a rally of ganasikshayaks being held at the block headquartes and had returned home in the afternoon. Failure to get a dress for his daughter had terribly upset her husband, who consumed a large number of sleeping pills. The family had no knowledge of it. As her husband’s condition grew critical, family members took him to the district headquarters hospital at Nayagarh where doctors declared him ‘brought dead’.
Deceased Surendra’s wife Anupam has lodged a complaint with the Sadar police station blaming the government for her husband’s death. After registering a case of unnatural death, police has begun its investigations in the case. The Nayagarh Block Ganasikshyak Association has held the government responsible for Surendra’s untimely death. Surendra could not buy their daughter a dress because he had not received his salary for last month, his wife said.
Deceased Surendra had completed 16 long years of service as a teacher. According to available information, Surendra began his career as a non-formal teacher in 1996 drawinga meagre Rs 105. In 2,002, he joined as an EGS with his salary reaching an amount of Rs 1750 after several hikes. In 2008, he was appointed as a ganasikshyak in the Sialikhal Project School. His last salary was Rs 3,700 a month.
So poor are deceased Surendra’s family that they didn’t have the money even for his cremation. Some fellow teachers arranged the amount with contribution from among themselves and cremated his mortail remains. His family is worried about where they will arrange money from to perform his tenth day rituals. The Nayagarh Block Ganasikshyak Sangh has said that its office bearers will draw the attention of the collector in the matter.