Taking a huge step in their demand for relief from the state government, teachers under the banner of the All Garo Hills SSA School Teachers’ Association (AGHSSASTA) today sat down in a hunger strike in front of the office of the chief minister in Tura.
The teachers have been demanding release of their six month’s salary and against the government’s apathy towards their demands.
The hunger strike began from 11 am and continued up to 2:30 pm with the teachers asserting that they would go an indefinite fast as the government was still unwilling to respond to their demand.
“I came here today despite carrying a two month old in my arms and the hardships I am facing at home. The MDA government is playing with us and sometimes just giving us some doles in a few months to live by. Our hardships are now being passed on to our children. Can you imagine that I am unable to even give Rs 10 to my children when they ask? Such has become our situation,” said a teacher, who brought her suckling infant to the protest.
“I have a paralyzed mother at home and no one to take care of my infant child. My mother is unable to eat by herself so how could I not come when it has become a question of survival for her and for my children,” she added.
The situation was the same for most that came, with food on the table becoming the biggest challenge they face now.
Another teacher, during the protest, related her situation on how she was literally in tears trying to pay the school fees of her children.
“I first tried to speak to the principal of the school but just could not muster the courage to do so out of shame. I then tried to take money on interest but that too didn’t materialize. I cried for 3 days contemplating the fate of my children when a friend called and asked for my account number and transferred money on interest to me. I thanked God for the help but my question is should our situation come to this,” she asked.
She added that the news of their Rs 59 crores that was to be distributed was only through newspapers.
“At least that would have helped clear some of our dues,” she felt.
The leadership of AGHSSASTA later confirmed that no approach had been made by the administration or the state government and this has led to them deciding to continue the fast and make it an indefinite one.
“We are facing problems in every aspect of our lives due to the neglect shown to us. Our demand for the release of our salaries has been a long one but we are still being ignored. The government should tell us how to run our families without money,” said the AGHSSASTA leaders during the protest.
The SSA teachers in the protest came from the various districts of Garo Hills in the hope that relief would be given to them.
After their protest this afternoon, the teachers submitted a memorandum to chief minister, Conrad Sangma through the Deputy Commissioner demanding the clearance of their pending salaries failing which they stated, the protest would continue indefinitely.
Until the filing of this report, no approach has been made by the administration or state government to speak to the teachers on the issue.