The opposition Trinamool Congress (TMC) led the condemnation of the state government’s violent response to protesting contractual teachers today.
“It is very sad to hear and know about the incident that took place today outside the Secretariat where teachers and their families were protesting,” TMC state president Charles Pyngrope said. “I feel that the government should have behaved or acted in a more humane manner in dealing with such situations, especially when the families of the teachers were also present.”
He described the government’s action as “deplorable”, adding that his heart goes out to the families of the teachers and the children who had to go through today’s trauma. “I would like to see that such actions in future do not occur irrespective of the situation that is created,” Pyngrope concluded.
Meanwhile, the government was also attacked by the TMC Students’ Union state president Bansharailang Pyngrope, who personally stood by protesting teachers.
He said, “We are here today to extend our support to the teachers who are unexpectedly attacked by the government. It saddened and shocked us. For over a month, teachers were protesting peacefully, so such an unfortunate incident was not foreseen. They shot tear gas and young children of the protesting teachers were also injured. It is a sorry state of affairs. We ask the government – who is responsible for all of this?”
The TMC’s East Khasi Hills unit also slammed the government for the “unprovoked use of tear gas shells” on the teachers.
“The action by some law enforcement agents is highly condemnable and not acceptable in a civilised society when teachers are well within their constitutional rights to protest,” TMC district coordinator Dominic S Wankhar said in a release, adding an accusation that Education Minister Lahkmen Rymbui has “run away” from the realities and pushed his responsibilities on to the Chief Minister.
The nascent Voice of the People Party (VPP) also took aim at the government and demanded that Rymbui, who is also in charge of the police as Home Minister, resign.
Describing the use of force as “unwarranted and excessive”, the VPP’s general secretary, Ricky AJ Syngkon, said that the state government oppressed the teachers by not entertaining their case and “miserably failed” in managing the issue by not coming up with an alternative solution.
“If the CM, Deputy CM and other ministers can undertake a junket abroad, why can’t they meet the agitating teachers?” Syngkon said, adding that it was “cowardly” for the government to attack the teachers with tear gas as if they were hooligans. “The minister in charge of Home and Education should take moral responsibility and resign immediately and the police personnel involved in this inhuman be booked as this is an utter violation of human rights.”
KAM Meghalaya was another political outfit that criticised the “excessive police force”. One of its leaders, Kyrsoibor Pyrtuh, was seen at the Secretariat gates after the tear gassing. In a release, it demanded an independent judicial inquiry and proper punishment for the violence.
KAM also said that women’s rights were violated as no female police personnel were present, resulting in women being manhandled by male police.
The Hynñiewtrep Youth Council has demanded institution of an inquiry and action against the magistrates and police personnel responsible for shelling tear gas
HYC general secretary Roy Kupar Synrem in a statement said the incident was unwarranted in view of the fact that children and family members of the teachers were also present during the rally.
“The government should take full responsibility for the incident and ensure police are not allowed to use excessive force,” he said.
The HYC also urged the Meghalaya High Court and Meghalaya State Human Rights Commission to take suo motu cognizance of the incident.
The Federation of Khasi, Jaiñtia and Garo People (FKJGP) also expressed surprise at the absence of the women police personnel. The pressure group demanded an inquiry and punishment for the police or magistrate responsible.
Meanwhile, the Synjuk ki Seng Samla Shnong (SSSS) of Upper Shillong requested the government to consider contractual teachers for vacant posts. Many of those let go are highly experienced and keeping them on would be of great benefit to students, SSSS Upper Shillong advisor Faming C Kharnaior said. To reinstate such contractual teachers, the age limit for MTET should be relaxed, Kharnaior added.