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700 teachers died of Covid 19 in UP

Over 700 teachers died of Covid 19 during UP panchayat polls, govt denies

May 6, 2021
-Mita Mukherjee

More than 700 school teachers died of Covid-19 since April in Uttar Pradesh after they contracted  the disease while attending  poll duty and election training  sessions and the number of casualties is still rising , the state’ teachers’ unions claimed.

The unions have alleged that no Covid-19 protocols were maintained at the polling centres where the teachers had to discharge the poll duties. Covid-19 norms were also not followed at the centres where the teachers were given the election training.

The elections for nearly 58,176 panchayats in Uttar Pradesh were held in four phases last month while the counting was conducted on May 2.  The election training for teachers began on April 6.  

While a number of teachers had taken ill during the training period many more were infected with Covid-19 during the elections, Dinesh Chandra Sharma president of Uttar Pradeshiya Prathmik Shikshak Sangh said.

“A few lakh teachers from the state were engaged in the election duty. We have prepared a list of 706 teachers who have died of Covid-19  since last month. They had contracted the disease when they attended the training sessions and poll duties,” the union head said.

According to him, “We are still receiving reports of more teachers succumbing to Covid-19. The numbers are increasing. Our union had informed the government much before that Covid protocols were not being followed at the centres and the teachers could contract the disease. But the government did not pay any heed to the letter.  As a result we lost so many of our colleagues. Their lives could have been saved if the protocols were not flouted,” Sharma told EducationWorld.

In letters to chief minister Yogi Adityanath and the state election commission the association has mentioned the names of all the teachers who have died since last month.

The state government has denied the allegations, according to sources.

Close to 80 per cent of the total polling personnel engaged in the elections were school teachers.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had recently expressed her displeasure with the way over 700 teachers died because of holding the panchayat election in the middle of the second wave. She has alleged that one of the lady teachers who died was a pregnant. “it is nothing less than a crime against humanity,” she said.

“Over 700 teachers have died in Uttar Pradesh, including a pregnant lady who was forced to attend polling duty for the Panchayat elections,” Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said in a tweet.

In two more tweets Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said:  “These elections have been conducted in almost 60,000 gram sabhas of U.P. without any thought of the catastrophic onslaught of the second wave. Meetings were conducted, campaigning continued and the spread of Covid-19 in U.P.’s villages  is now unstoppable. People are dying in numbers so far., far above the deceitful official figures.”

The teachers’ union head said a large number of teachers below the age of 45 were engaged in the election duty. But no measures were taken for their vaccination before allotting them the poll duties. Many of the 706 deceased teachers are below 45 years age.

“We had urged the government to ensure that all those who attended the poll duties got vaccinated before the training sessions. But nothing was done in this regard,” the union said.

According to the union, the election training sessions were conducted in small enclosures where social distancing norms could not be maintained. Over 60 people would have to sit together in a small room  and undergo the training for several hours.

“The reports of teachers dying of Covid-19 had started pouring in from mid-April after the training ended. We had written the letter to the state government at that time,” Dinesh Chandra Sharma said.

Also read: Private schools push government to vaccinate teachers on priority basis

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