All the major political parties in the Opposition in West Bengal hit the streets on Friday in protest against police action on protesting job seekers who were demonstrating outside the office of West Bengal Board of Primary Education (WBBPE) in Kolkata’s Salt Lake area.
Police personnel used force to drag the hundreds of protesters and put them into prison vans in the early hours of Friday. During the day supporters of the student wing of Communist Party of India (marxist) held demonstrations in the Salt Lake area, followed by the supporters of Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress in central parts of the country. There was scuffle between the Left supporters and police at Salt Lake and with the BJP at Esplanade. Dozens of Left and BJP workers were taken in custody. State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also held a rally in the city with black votes. Protests were organised by the BJP in other parts of the State also.
According to the police prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Cr. P.C was imposed in the area in front of WBBPE in Salt Lake and those protesting were violating the orders. The police were also making announcements urging those protesting to leave the venue citing that the Calcutta High Court had ratified their decision of imposing prohibitory orders.. Job seekers who had appeared and qualified for the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) in 2014 have been protesting at the venue since Monday. They had also gone on a hunger strike demanding that they be given appointments as teachers in the State.
Irregularities in the recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff in State-run schools have rocked the West Bengal government. The central investigation agencies have arrested six key officials of the State Education Department including former Minister Partha Chatterjee and former chairperson of WBBPE Manik Bhattacharya.
The protesters are claiming that they have appeared in the recruitment process twice but they have been deprived of jobs as jobs were given in return for monetary favours. Representatives of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Left parties and Congress reached the venue even when the police action was on.
“W.B. or Hitler’s Germany?” Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari said after the police action. Police applied brute force on agitating candidates at Salt Lake to forcefully end their legitimate sit-in demonstration near the State Primary Education Board Office.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has refrained from commenting on the matter pointing out that the matter was subjudice. Prominent citizens including filmmaker Aparna Sen, physician Binayak Sen and other prominent citizens have decried the police action on protesting students. Calcutta High Court has directed central investigating agencies to probe the recruitment process in State-run schools.
Meanwhile, the WBBPE on Friday issued a notification for recruitment of 11,765 primary teachers. Candidates below 40 years of age can apply for these posts, but no preference has been given to the protesting job seekers.