The Uttar Pradesh Shikshak Mahasangh revised the death toll of teachers to 1,621, two weeks after they had written to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, claiming that 706 primary school teachers and staffers had died of the deadly virus because they were placed on election duty during the Panchayat Polls in April.
“We will not let this go. Our family members have died,” Dinesh Chandra Sharma, president of the Uttar Pradesh Shikshak Mahasangh said. “We will protest. We will move the High Court, the Supreme Court. We will do what is needed to get justice.”
In a letter addressed to UP Chief Minister on May 16, 2021, the Teachers’ Union listed the 1,621 names of teachers and staffers, along with the names of their schools, district, and phone numbers to contact their families.
The new death toll list comprises those teachers who the Union claims died of Covid-19 after April 29 vote and the counting session on May 2.
The union has put forward a list of around eight demands among which compensation worth Rs 1 crore to the families of the deceased, government jobs for the next of kin, declaring the deceased employees as “corona warriors,” covering the medical expenditures of the teachers who recovered, and stop inquiries against those who did not go for the election duty have been mentioned.
The list contains names of teachers who teach students from standard 1 to 8, said Sharma.
The state had its panchayat polls starting from 15 April in four phases. Even as UP was fighting against the deadly Covid, the state took no measures to postpone the elections. The state government continued with the elections even after the teachers pleaded to postpone it to save their lives and families. The other dates when the polls were held were 19 April, 26 April and 29 April.
Subir Shukla, former adviser to the Central government on quality of education and resource consultant to the UP government, said that the teachers could not move the government on the issue of the election. “The general sentiment towards them has been that they have been drawing their salary for just sitting at home during the pandemic,” said Shukla.
The letter also mentions that the state’s teachers had requested the state government and the state election commission on 12, 22, 28 and 29 April to postpone the panchayat polls and the counting of votes, but their pleadings were not given a heed.
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