Primary school teachers in the Indian state of West Bengal protested in the state capital Kolkata on November 6-7, demanding that the education minister Partha Chatterjee fulfill his promise of increasing their salaries.
The protesting teachers have been consistently asking the government for an increase. Primary school teachers of government schools in other Indian States are paid a much higher salary.
The teachers had struck work for eight days in May. During that struggle, thousands of teachers protested in front of the office of the education minister, demanding that their pay scale be increased from the existing Rs 2,600 (USD 36) to Rs 4,200 (USD 58).
The protest was withdrawn only after the West Bengal government issued a notification saying that the grade pay of trained primary teachers would be enhanced from Rs. 2,600 (in pay band 2) to Rs. 3,600 9 (USD 45.5) (in pay band 3), and that the grade pay of untrained primary teachers would be hiked from Rs. 2,300 to Rs. 2,900 (in pay band 2) with effect from August 1. However, more than three months later, the government has still has not published any notification regarding the same.
As many as 14 teachers who had been leading the movement had been transferred by the government to schools far away from their residences as a punitive measure. Following the initial protest, the government was forced to revoke the transfers.
On Wednesday, almost 10,000 teachers started protesting in Jadavpur, Kolkata, but the police chased them away, following which the teachers shifted to Baghajatin More. Three delegates then went to meet the education minister. NewsClick reported that according to the West Bengal joint secretary of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), Kalatan Dasgupta, the minister told the team of delegates that the government had done all it could, and refused to do anything more.
When the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] leader Sujan Chakraborty went to meet the protesters, he was allegedly stopped from doing so by goons of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), and the police.
Meanwhile, the teachers continued to protest in a park in Jadavpur, and spent the night there. The police has also detained a large number of protesters, who were taken to two different police stations. The arrested teachers were presented in court on Thursday, November 7. Dasgupta has said that the further course of action will be decided once the detained teachers have been released by the police.