With the country’s increasing democratic deficit, one thing that rings like an alarm to the ears is people’s voice- their dissent, protests and opinions. Disagreement is the way to keep a country’s democracy going and if your government fails to acknowledge that disagreement, you have to make your government hear, by protests and slogans. Farmers are protesting, teachers are protesting, labourers are protesting, and minorities are protesting- not only for themselves, but also for the country, the democratic country that our forefathers left for us. So maybe it’s a sign. It’s a sign that we wake up and ask our government the tough questions it has been dodging for the longest time. If the media doesn’t ask and the judiciary won’t ask, it can be safely said looking at the current country wide protests that the people will ask. And sooner or later, the government will be forced to answer.
With hopes of being heard and being answered, more than 10,000 teachers in Tripura sat on an indefinite protest back in December 2020 and the big question here is, why aren’t we talking about it more often? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because the government doesn’t care and neither does the media, so by the time the country gets to know about it, it’s already too late, like in this case. But as they say, better late than never. So, let’s come out of our homes and talk about it. Let’s talk about everything that you need to know about it from why they decided to protest to what has happened in these 2 months.
Add to the list of BJP’s hollow promises and lies, a promise made to 10,323 teachers back during pre-polls in 2018’s assembly election to provide them with the permanent government employment if they come to power. Well, seems like the government is uninterested in keeping their promise because it has been more than 2 years, and let alone permanent employment, these teachers have been out of job since April 2020. This promise came in after these teachers were sacked by the Tripura High Court for faulty recruitment process and irregularities, deeming the process unconstitutional. The Supreme court, however, upheld the Tripura High Court’s decision and allowed the teachers to work on an ad-hoc basis till January 2018, to avoid the staff shortage in government schools. So, during the BJP government’s campaign in 2017-18, a promise was made to these 10,323 teachers, a few of whom have died since, to grant permanent government jobs to these teachers if the party comes to power. The Supreme Court also granted an extension to work till March 2020.
Being out of work since April 2020, the teachers have been involved in mass demonstrations in the state’s capital, in front of the civil secretariat, where they met with police brutality in the form of lathi-charge, water cannons and tear gas. Note again, the people we’re talking about here are teachers and all they demanded was the government to fulfil their promises. What would you call this, another propaganda? Or a terrorist organisational group? Police brutality in this country would keep increasing should we not question it, as is pretty evident from recent events. When did we normalise treating our own people, let alone teachers, like this?
After this brutal incident inflicting violence and trauma to the teachers, a group of teachers met Chief Minister Biplab Deb, who assured them a solution to their problems in 2 months. We’re standing in February of next year today and we see no solution, only another hollow meaningless promise. 2 months after the promise was made by the Chief Minister, on hearing nothing from the government, the teachers sat on an indefinite strike, demanding direct postings for all teachers, as promised.
62 days down the line and the teachers have been sitting in the protest with no foreseeable result to their pleas. The state education minister said that the government has already done enough for the teaching department and instead of protesting against the government, the said teachers should prepare for the next recruitment process for 9000 vacant positions. Well, the teachers who already sat for the process, cleared the process and are now sitting for their financial stability are being asked to do it all over again? How very fair of the government.
And even though the government is not very fair, you have to give them credits for being smart and manipulative of the laws. After all, they made the protest and make-shift tents suddenly illegal by imposition of section 144 at 6 in the morning later this January, while the protesting teachers were still asleep, making the gathering out of law and giving police a free pass to undertake their brutality all over again. The protestors were detained forcibly by the police, their tents destroyed, charged with lathis and deployed water cannons, and shot with tear gas, all in the face of our democratic country. Since when did teachers become criminals and since when did asking for one’s rights become a crime? Asking the government to honour its promise is the free pass for police to brutalise the people? More than a hundred people have been injured and hospitalised, despite their instable financial conditions, and the media hasn’t decided to even bat an eye on it. And is the use of section 144 as and when convenient by the government lawful? Well, I guess nobody cares anymore; not you, not I, not the government, not the Supreme Court, not anyone who calls themselves an Indian.
It’s easy to be ignorant and apolitical when you’re hiding behind your privilege of being unaffected by these actions. But this unnerving government is coming, after all, be it farmers, minorities, students, teachers or anybody who they think can be suppressed. So, if you think you’re not going to be next, you need to think through. The country is made from its people and not its government, and if every protest is a propaganda against the government and every protestor a terrorist, you need to introspect on what your government is compelling you to believe.