Para teachers demonstrate outside WB assembly demanding pay parity

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(With additional reax) Kolkata, Jan 27 (PTI) Women members of an organisation of para teachers Wednesday staged a demonstration outside West Bengal Assembly demanding parity in pay with regular teachers in schools, police said.

A team of women police pesonnel reached the Assembly and removed the demonstrators.

A two-day sesion of the Assembly is scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

A senior official said over 50 members of 'Sikshak Oikyo Mukto Manch' demonstrated outside the Assembly where prohibitory orders were clamped, a senior officer said.

'Over 50 para teachers have been removed from the Assembly premises. One of them fell sick during the operation.

We will find out how they managed to climb a gate of the assembly though police personnel were posted on the premises.

'We will find out whether there was any lapse in security,' the officer said adding a team of Rapid Action Force of the city police has been deployed at the spot.

'We want equal pay for equal work at par with regular teachers and retirement benefits. We want to meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. This is a fight for our self- respect,' Gita Biswas, one of the agitating teachers, told reporters.

The state education department had increased the salary of para teachers at the primary level from Rs 5,954 to Rs 10,000 a month and for those at the higher secondary level from Rs 8,500 to Rs 13,000.

Asked about the incident, state minister Subrata Mukherjee said, 'The assembly doesn't belong to any particular party. Besides, there are places to hold such agitations to air grievances. In a parliamentary democracy, one can always demonstrate but not in the assembly premises.' Minister Firhad Hakim blamed the opposition for using the para teachers as ''guinea pigs'' to create issues before the state poll.

''Any stir at this point will not be of any help as restrictions due to the coming election will be imposed before the government can take a planned action,'' he added.

State BJP spokesman Samik Bhattacharya said the issue of para teachers should have been addressed with a humane approach by the government.

He also accused Mamata Banerjee of promising para teachers before coming to power but failing to implement them after becoming the chief minister, he said.

'Minister Subrata Mukherjee has suggested that the demonstrators should have agitated at a proper place and not outside the assembly gate. The teachers have already held prolonged sit-ins outside education headquarters Bikash Bhavan, went to the secretariat, held protests in public thoroughfares of the city but did not get any response from the government,'' Bhattacharya said.

CPI-M leader Sujan Chakraborty and Congress leader Abdul Mannan said the Mamata Banerjee government is acting with the same insensitivity towards the para teachers as the Centre is towards the farmers.

The para teachers' salary should be revised and they should be given salaries promised by Banerjee, he added. PTI SUS SCH BSM BDC KK KK