Five primary school teachers consumed poison while staging a protest outside the state education department in Kolkata's Salt Lake, regarding job-related problems.
The incident took place on Tuesday, August 24, when the teachers were forcefully entering Bikash Bhavan, the education department's headquarters, NDTV reported.
They were rushed to the state hospital. Four of them are reported to be in critical condition, while the fifth one is out of danger. A constable stopped her before she could gulp down all of the liquid.
The teachers have been identified as Shikha Das, Jyotsna Tudu, Putul Jana Mondal, Chabi Das, and Anima Roy.
The teachers have been protesting against their transfers to other districts and distant places. Currently, on a contractual basis, they are also seeking job regularisation.
All of them are members of 'Sikshak Oikyo Mancha', a contractual teachers' unity forum, seeking regularisation of services and revocation of transfers.
The members asked the police personnel deployed in the area to meet the Education minister Bratya Basu, but they refused, citing COVID-19 norms. Following this, the teachers had a tiff with the force.
Many were arrested for violating the Disaster Management Act that has been imposed in the state. As soon as the five were being pulled, they took out the brown bottles and drank the liquid containing poison.
One of the five teachers, Putul Mondal, described his ordeal to the media before consuming the poison. A faculty member of Surya Sen Sishu Siksha Kendra, Mondal was to Dinhata in Cooch Behar district (north Bengal), far away from his native at Bakkhali in Sunderbans (south Bengal). The distance is over 600 km, and it is next to impossible to travel on a daily basis.
Earlier this month, around 40 para-teachers had staged a protest outside the residence of Education minister Bratya Basu, demanding a hike in salaries and the recognition of elementary teachers.
Later on August 18, they demonstrated outside the state secretariat, Nabanna, seeking a response to their grievances.
Govt Lacks Concerns
Hitting at the ruling TMC-government, BJP state Vice President Jaiprakash Majumdar said the education minister and the party lacked concern for teachers, forcing them to take a massive step of attempting suicide.
Responding to the incident, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said the matter would be probed in detail to find out if there was any provocation from outside and wished the teachers a speedy recovery.