Bhubaneswar, Feb 3:
Along with a few fellow travellers, Subas Chandra Lenka (40), a retrenched Personal Learning Plan (PLP) teacher, had been sitting on a dhrana since February 18 last year and had braved sizzling summer heat, heavy rains and intense cold under a tent, besides lack of adequate food for nearly a year. He did not budge from the place even during Cyclone Phailin in October last year.
As a callous state government turned a deaf ear to their persistent demand, most of Lenka’s fellow travellers left the dharna. But undaunted by the desertions, a determined Lenka continued to sit on dharna along with a handful of other retrenched teachers, including president of All Odisha PLP Teachers’ Association Jayakrushna Sethi and its secretary Bhajamana Nayak.
But a year of physical and mental stress finally felled Lenka late on January 18 night when he felt acute pain in his chest.
He was admitted to the Capital Hospital where the doctors said he had suffered a heart stroke due to excessive mental stress.
Later, Subas was shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack where he passed away on Sunday morning while undergoing treatment.
The 40-year-old deceased, hailing from a BPL family of Sabaranga village of Bhadrak district, had lost his father Kailash a few days ago.
He is survived by his mother, wife and two minor daughters.
With the family in dire straits, the president of the Association has demanded a government service for Lenka’s wife and adequate compensation to this family.
According to reports, the state government had retrenched over a thousand PLP teachers in 2006.
Since then, the retrenched PLP teachers, who were appointed by the government to impart education to dropout students, had been staging a series of demonstrations in the state capital demanding their reinstatement.
Many of the striking PLP teachers were severely injured following a lathi-charge by the police during a civil disobedience movement in March, 2013.
Despite the incident, the government did not bother to look into the demands of these teachers.
But undeterred by the government apathy, the retrenched teachers continued sitting on an indefinite stir at the Lower PMG Square in the city here on February 18 last year.
The agitating teachers were hopeful that the government would consider their demand in view of the ensuing Assembly session and general elections.
But they had to endure the death of a colleague instead.