At least 1621 teachers and support staff have so far died from COVID-19 following poll duty during the recently concluded Uttar Pradesh panchayat elections, according to information provided by the Uttar Pradesh Primary Teachers’ Association on May 16.
The Uttar Pradesh Primary Teachers’ Association has sent a list of the victims to the chief minister demanding financial assistance of Rs 1 crore and jobs to their dependents. ……In the list sent to the chief minister on 16 May, the teachers’ association has put forth eight demands including financial assistance of one crore rupees and jobs to the family members of the teachers, shiksha mitras, instructors and employees who have died while on poll duty. The list submitted contains the names of the deceased teachers, the name of the school, their designation, block and district name, date of death and the mobile number of a family member.
However, dismissing the claim, the Basic Education Minister of the BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government said that only three government teachers succumbed to Covid-19 during the recently held panchayat polls. Uttar Pradeshiya Prathmik Shikshak Sanghsaid said that as per the rules of the state election commission, a government official is considered on election duty from the period the employee leaves their residence for attending poll-related training, includes the time of polling and counting work, and ends when they reach their residence after duty. It implies that anyone falling victim of the pandemic afterwards would not be counted as having fallen sick or died in harness. Incredible indeed! Only the BJP can give such ludicrous and inhuman argument. Sensing backlash, the BJP chief minister of UP immediately came out with a face-saving by putting the onus on the Election Commission. He said that in order to provide proper support to the teachers, who died due to Covid-19 during the panchayat poll duty and their families, the Election Commission should be consulted and requested to make necessary recommendations. Such weird attempt to suppress facts or sidetrack accountability has become a hallmark of the BJP ministers and leaders. Incidentally, UP State SUCI(C) has already raised this issue and sought justice for the bereaved families.
It is also noteworthy that in the panchayat election that the ruling BJP was so keen to hold despite harrowing rise in Covid 19 infection throughout the state proved a dampener as the BJP lost it to the opposition. Even in Ayodhya, Mathura, Gorakhpur and Varanasi, where Hindutva cry is so pronounced, the BJP had to face defeat. Not only that. The arch communal Hindutva slogan failed to precipitate religious polarization even in Ayodhya. Rajanpur, a Hindu dominated village in Ayodhya has elected a Muslim gram Pradhan (village head). “If religion could provide bread, could I win”, said the elected Pradhan.
(Source: scroll.in 05-05-21, Indian Express-11-05-21, Hindustan Times-11-05-21, The Wire and Hindustan Times dated 19-05-21, NDTV dated 20-05-21, ABP 23-05-21))