Demanding their reinstatement, the agitating contractual teachers of state-run schools in Meghalaya clashed with the police on Thursday when they tried to enter the secretariat in Shillong.
Over 800 contractual teachers were terminated two years back after they failed to clear the Meghalaya Teachers Eligibility Test (MTET), and have been protesting since then under the banner of the Meghalaya Government Lower Primary Contractual Teachers’ Association (MGLPCTA).
The teachers were demonstrating outside the main gate of the secretariat, demanding that they be given their jobs back, when the situation escalated.
Police allegedly lathi-charged the protesters and hurled tear gas shells as they tried to storm into the state secretariat building.
The protesters were accompanied by their family members, including children, during the fiasco. Among the protesters were many pregnant women.
The police action drew severe criticism from different social organisations, with the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) demanding steps against those responsible for issuing such an order.
Chief Secretary DP Wahlang wanted to meet the protesters but they turned down the offer, an official said.
MGLPCTA leader Birbor Riangtem said they have met Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma seven times with their issue but to no avail.
“He even chased us away from his room. Therefore, we don’t want to meet the government as they will only fool us. Sangma had assured us to examine our demand but there has been no positive outcome even after two years,” he said.
Riangtem said they are not willing to meet the chief secretary as he had “also fooled us with his words”.
“Our clear message to the government is if they want us to call off this agitation, they should come up with an order to reinstate our services,” he added.
Riangtem, who was injured in the lathi charge, was accompanied by his two sons.
“My children want to go to school, but I have no job for two years, how will I provide education to them? That is why my family has come to support me,” he said.