Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 5:
Agitating block grant teachers today clashed with the police while they were on their way to gherao Naveen Nivas-the official residence of the Odisha Chief Minister.
About 100 teachers have been injured when police resorted to lathicharge at Sishu Bhawan square to disperse the agitating teachers march towards the Chief Minister’s residence. More than 50 teachers have been admitted to Capital Hospital.
“We were on a peaceful March. Some of our leaders were holding talks with senior officials of the Twin City Commissionerate Police. Police resorted to lathi charge all of a sudden. We were no way violating law and order. We just wanted to meet our Chief Minister and discuss our issue with him,” said a teacher while being taken to Capital Hospital.
While some of the teachers resorted to stone pelting at cops in retaliation, no casualties have been reported.
While hundreds of teachers have been arrested to contain the situation, Bhubaneswar DCP Satyabrata Bhoi- who briefed the media for a short while – was not able to give any specific numbers. He, however, confirmed that the situation remains under control now.
Two platoons of cops have been deployed at Master Canteen square, two more platoons near Naveen Nivas and several other small contingents have been deployed on the way to monitor the situation and arrest teachers trying to regroup and move towards Naveen Nivas.
The incident occurred when about 10,000 block grant teachers started a mega rally from Master Canteen square and proceeded towards Naveen Nivas near Airport Square.
With small numbers of cops on duty on the way, the teachers managed to break the police cordon and move towards Sishu Bhawan square. The police resorted to lathi charge in order to disperse the crowd. Traffic was interrupted for about two hours due to the incident.
Some of the experts are pointing out that the cops didn’t follow necessary rules before using force. As per experts, the cops need to use tear gas or water cannon before resorting to lathi charge.
“The government is playing with our career and our lives. We have been agitating since a long time demanding full grant-in-aid. Earlier onSeptember 27, in order to split our agitation, it assured us that our demands would be fulfilled. We resumed school on September 28 based on that assurance. However, nothing has been done since then. Instead, it just announced a 20 percent hike in the salary and attempted to wash its hands of the issue,” said another agitating teacher.
The teachers had earlier announced about the mega rally in Lower PMG demanding fulfilment of their nine-point charter of demands that includes full grant-in-aid. Today, after assembling near Master Canteen square, the teachers decided to gherao Naveen Nivas instead and started a march leading to the incident.
Notably, they have also threatened not to cooperate in the upcoming High School Certificate examination, should the government not give in to their demands.