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1,621 teachers died of COVID-19 during U.P. panchayat polls, says union

A polling officer counts Panchayat Election Ballots at Polytechnic counting centre during second wave of coronavirus pandemic, in Lucknow on May 2, 2021. Photo for representation only.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The number of teachers and staff who allegedly died of COVID-19 after being assigned duty in the panchayat polls and control rooms for the pandemic has gone up to 1,621, a union for the primary teachers in Uttar Pradesh claimed on Sunday.

The union 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.

Uttar Pradesh Prathmik Shikshak Sangh president Dinesh Chandra Sharma said the number of primary education department teachers and staff to die on polling duty during the pandemic had gone up to to 1,621. The union released a list of the 1,621 people.

Moreover, he added, many teachers and staff with heart diseases died due to “tension” and heart attack.

Like reported by The Hindu on May 2, COVID-19 safety protocols were not followed at the counting centres of the panchayat polls by the district administration, said Mr. Sharma.

“What’s worrying is that even after the so much of loss of life, administrative officials in districts are harassing primary teachers,” he said.

Basic education department teachers and staff are allowed to work from home but in several districts like Unnao, Rae Bareli, Lucknow, Basti, Banda and Hardoi, they have been assigned duty at COVID control rooms at the cost of their safety, he said.

The union demanded that a compensation of ₹1 crore be provided to the kin of the staff and teachers who died during polling duty. The union also demanded that the government withdraw all punitive action against the teachers and staff absent on polling duty and declare all teachers, including the deceased, as corona warriors.

The Allahabad High Court on May 11 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 RTPCR support” should be at least ₹1 crore.

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.

“It is not a case that somebody volunteered to render his/ her services during election but it was all made obligatory to those assigned with election duty to perform their duties during election even while they showed their reluctance. The amount of the compensation, in our considered opinion, is very less,” a Division Bench of Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar said on May 11.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 11:40:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/many-teachers-died-of-covid-19-during-up-panchayat-polls-says-union/article34575965.ece

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