Only three teachers on polling duty died of COVID-19, says U.P. govt.

Dismisses figure of 1,600 figure given by teacher union.

Updated - May 19, 2021 01:04 pm IST

Published - May 19, 2021 01:02 pm IST - LUCKNOW

The son of a science school teacher, who died of COVID-19, performs final rituals prior to lighting his father's funeral pyre.

The son of a science school teacher, who died of COVID-19, performs final rituals prior to lighting his father's funeral pyre.

The Uttar Pradesh government has said that only three teachers died of COVID-19 while on duty during the recently-concluded panchayat poll dismissing the figure of over 1,600 deaths claimed by teacher unions.

Satya Prakash, under secretary of basic education department, Uttar Pradesh, said on Tuesday that so far District Magistrates had provided the State Election Commission a list of only three confirmed deaths of teachers. He also appealed people to not fall for “misleading” reports not based on facts.

The State government’s statement stands in stark contrast to the claim made by the Uttar Pradesh Prathmik Shikshak Sangh , a union for primary teachers.

The union earlier this week released a list of 1,621 teachers and staff of the basic education department who allegedly died of COVID-19 after being assigned duty in the panchayat polls and control rooms for the pandemic.

It also alleged that despite assurances by the State Chief Secretary on May 1, a day before counting, that unwell teachers and staff would not be asked to be on polling duty, those who were absent due to illness on counting and voting days had faced suspension and salary cuts.

The SEC recently informed the Allahabad High Court that 77 polling officers and agents in 28 districts had died while on duty as polling in the panchayat polls. Data from other districts was awaited, the SEC told the court on May 7.

‘Insensitive, irresponsible’

Reacting to the State basic education department claim of only three deaths, Dinesh Chandra Sharma, president of the Uttar Pradesh Prathmik Shikshak Sangh, said the government statement was “insensitive, irresponsible and far from reality.”

“We won’t let them kill the rights of the children of the teachers who died. We will fight for their families at all levels,” he said.

The Allahabad High Court had said that the compensation provided to kin of polling officers who died on duty during the panchayat polls due to the “deliberate act on the part of the State and the State Election Commission to force them to perform duties in the absence of RT-PCR support” should be at least ₹1 crore.

This came after the State government had recently told the court that it would provide a compensation of ₹30 lakh to the family members of the deceased polling officers, including teachers and ‘sikhsa mitras’.

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