October 30, 2022

WB: Teachers Recruitment Scam-Police Atrocities on Protesters

Souvik Ghosh

THE TET (Teachers Eligibility Test) qualifiers for the year 2014 are still on the wait and on-road too! They qualified in the exam with all that is required, but the government of West Bengal is still in favor of those who ‘managed’ ‘somehow’ to get the appointment. The current education minister of West Bengal justifies chief minister’s primary concern which is that she doesn’t want anyone to ‘lose the job’. In this regard, we must remember that for the last six months West Bengal is the boiling pot of news about the SSC-TET Scam.

Partha Chatterjee, the number two of Trinamool Congress and former education minister of the state is still in jail after crores of rupee notes were recovered from his various properties (flats/buildings either in his possession or his khaas (special) emissary Arpita Mukherjee). The ED and CBI were on a spree of raids and arrests of high-ranked officials (either former or current-both) related to state education. Even the plea by Trinamool Congress leader and former chairman of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education, Manik Bhattacharya was rejected by the Supreme Court. Manik tried his best to avoid his arrest by the ED (Enforcement Directorate) on money laundering charges in connection with alleged irregularities in the recruitment of primary school teachers through the TET-2014, but he failed. While entering court for the hearing, people shouted Chor, Chor (thief) from the very first sight of him.


Officials have been arrested, but with the state government’s empathy for ‘illegally’ appointed teachers, the valid candidates had no alternative but to protest. Already two rounds of interviews were held for the 2014 candidates. The TET-2017 qualifiers are there too. They gathered in front of the Primary Education Board office at Karunamoyee, Salt Lake in Kolkata. First, the TET-2014 batch demanded the restarting of the ‘pending’ appointment process as two rounds of interviews were done already. Two days later the TET-2017 candidates joined the wave with a demand for a fresh interview for all who had qualified. Protestors sat on a hunger strike. The Primary Education Board filed a petition in the High Court regarding the ‘unlawful’ protest by the ‘valid’ candidates. It was ruled that the site is under the Section-144 of CrPC and hence no one can/should protest there. The comrades of SFI (Students’ Federation of India) and DYFI (Democratic Youth Federation of India) stood aside from the protestors and declared they will keep themselves right there till the end of it.

Let’s take a quick revisit. A total of 25,630 vacancies were noted as per official data (13,842 for IX-X standard, 5527 for XI-XII, 2325 for head masters, and 3936 for primary education),  for which the High Court reassured that there is no bar for recruitment due to the legal proceedings going on. The very same observation cleared the whispers about the TMC government’s bonafide. The ED said in court that about Rs 300 crores were looted in the WBSSC scam and at least Rs 100 crores are expected to be excavated in the coming days, provided the necessary ‘cooperation’ of those who are under arrest. A handsome amount of that Rs 300 crores was invested in foreign tourism and hotel business and the last assembly election campaign – which was reported by the investigating agencies. No wonder, madam chief minister of West Bengal is now chanting the magic mantra – ‘I love those who are protesting on legitimate grounds. I don’t want anyone to lose his or her job!’

The valid candidates are no more in the mood to sit on fire. Hence they sat on the road. After a long 84 hours of combined hunger strike and protest, the police set themselves for some action. At midnight on October 20, several buses were arranged for the clearance of the protest site, and someone must admit, a good job was done! Protestors were lifted from the streets like mere objects, thrown in prison vans and whatsoever. Later, police said only a minimum force was applied to get the job done! Along with the protestors, Meenakshi Mukherjee, Kalatan Dasgupta, and other activists were arrested. They were released later in the night. Three of the arrested were pointed out correctly, out of the total count after release. Later police confirmed they were still under arrest. News channels showed how police forced them out of the scene. Pictures and videos are uploaded from several accounts on social media. Eminent personalities reacted sharply against such police atrocity that very night. Tweets and Facebook Posts started popping up. That night was not full of stars, but we all know- not all stars are faulty.

The very next morning the area of the site of protest was under unprecedented surveillance by Kolkata police. People protested, people were arrested and they protested again. Police were determined to clear the site (to clear the ‘mind’ – who knows!) and the second round of mass arrest started again. Even local citizens out for daily marketing were detained without any hesitation. The situation was nothing but abominable. The people decided to move against such atrociousness. Citizens of Kolkata and other linked cities gave a call for a united march on October 23 in this regard. Likewise, a call was given to all across the state. Kolkata stood up on its foot. All of a sudden call on social media showed what people need is just the call! Even the organisers were amazed by the volume and spirit of the Citizens March on Sunday afternoon. It shows the city is in metamorphosis, just in the opposite direction that Franz Kafka described. The Citizens March ended in the evening as it was decided… but with a mindset for another Long March, whenever necessary.