In a dramatic incident played out in front of television cameras, four teachers, who were part of a group protesting the government’s failure to extend grants to their schools at Freedom Park, consumed pesticide on Thursday.
The teachers are members of the Karnataka State Private Aided Schools’ Federation. Hundreds of teachers working in 274 unaided schools established between 1987 and 1996 have been staging demonstrations since the last two months demanding that their schools be made aided institutions.
The four teachers consumed pesticide around 2 pm amid hundreds of other protesters when a delegation was getting ready to go to Raj Bhavan to submit a memorandum about their demands to the Governor.
The teachers-H K Lohit (30) from Mandya, Jayavardhan (30), Mahesh (31) from Piriyapattana and Devaraj (30)- were immediately shifted to hospitals.
While three of the teachers were taken to K C General Hospital in Malleswaram, Lohit and Jayavardhan were shifted to Victoria Hospital. Dr Ramesh Babu of K C General Hospital explained that the teachers had consumed pesticide. He said they were out of danger after receiving treatment.
“However, they have to be in ICU for 24 to 48 hours,” he added.
Kaveri Gowda, a teacher at a school in Maddur taluk, explained that many teachers were even facing marital strife as a result of their meager salaries.
Graduates constituency MLC M C Narayanaswamy said there was no paucity of funds for fulfilling the teachers’ demands. Instead, he attributed differences between teachers and the government over the issue to a communication gap.