Nitish government faces heat as Bihar official thrashes teaching job aspirant holding tricolour

Former Deputy CM and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi sought to hold the CM responsible for the incident.
Security personnel baton charge to disperse Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) and Bihar Teacher Eligibility Test (BTET) qualified candidates. (Photo | PTI)
Security personnel baton charge to disperse Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) and Bihar Teacher Eligibility Test (BTET) qualified candidates. (Photo | PTI)

PATNA: The opposition in Bihar on Monday attacked the Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance government over a viral video showing an additional district magistrate thrashing an aspiring teacher who held aloft the national flag during a lathi charge at a protest in Patna.

Former Deputy CM and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi sought to hold the CM responsible for the incident.

“The delay in teachers’ recruitment in the seventh phase is due to the CM’s dilly-dallying attitude,” he said, adding, “Such is the state of affairs in Bihar where Nitish has ruled for over 15 years. Currently, his party, the JD-U, is in charge of the education department. Therefore, Nitish should accept his failure on behalf of his government.”

The police resorted to lathi charge on the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) and the State Teacher Eligibility Test (STET) pass-outs during a protest near a major thoroughfare of Patna.

Initially, water cannons were used to suppress the protestors. The protesters had assembled to press their demand to expedite the recruitment of teachers in government-run primary schools.

Additional District Magistrate KK Singh, accompanied by police personnel, picked on an aspirant and beat him up with sticks, as he was shouting slogans against the state government for the delay. The protestors have been staging a dharna for 20 days but no official has visited them. They alleged that the government had not taken any decision three years after they cleared the CTET and STET.

Earlier, they staged a dharna at another place to exert pressure on the government.

“All that we have had are assurances,” said a protestor. Patna District Magistrate Chandrashekhar said the government has set up a two-member panel to look into the matter.

“Further action will be initiated on the basis of the inquiry report,” he said, expressing his displeasure over the manner in which the protestors were thrashed. “Action will be initiated against the officer in question if the allegations of showing disregard to the national flag are found to be true,” he said.

Earlier, the state education minister said the process of appointment of CTET and STET passouts in the seventh phase would begin soon.

Deputy CM Tejashwi Prasad Yadav also assured the aspiring teachers that the government is serious about their demands.

The issue of teachers’ appointment has come to the fore at a time when the newly installed government has promised employment as its key welfare measure. The promise was also the core of Tejashwi’s campaign ahead of the 2020 assembly polls when he promised to provide 10 lakh jobs.

He also expressed regret over the incident.

"Such an incident should have never taken place", said Yadav, referring to the much-televised baton charge by an additional district collector who kept striking a protester with a stick until the latter fell down and was no more able to avert the blows, using as a shield a Tricolour he was holding aloft, which was picked up and taken away by a policeman.

The protester was part of a several-hundred-strong crowd that had gathered in the heart of the city demanding teaching jobs for those who have cleared the eligibility tests.

Yadav, whose promise of "10 lakh jobs" had propelled the RJD to the status of the single largest party in the last assembly polls, said, "I urge the youngsters, with folded hands, to have some patience. We are committed to fulfilling our promises. But it has to follow some procedures and cannot happen overnight".

"I have been receiving job aspirants at my residence, many of whom bring presents like bouquets and pens. My Facebook timeline bears testimony to that. I am fully aware of their anxieties. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has also made public his intent to provide not just 10 lakh, but 20 lakh jobs and employment opportunities", said the young RJD leader.

He also blamed the BJP, which has now been ousted from power in the state, for the acute unemployment problem.

Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, who served as the deputy CM for about a decade and a half till 2020, accused Kumar of being "directly responsible for the sad state of education".

"The CM's party JD(U) has throughout kept the education portfolio. So the CM should be held personally responsible for the mess in which education is and which is at the root of today's violence," Modi alleged in a statement.

State Congress spokesman Asit Nath Tiwari, whose party is an ally of the ruling coalition, issued a strongly worded statement condemning the episode.

"The official is K K Singh, an additional district magistrate with a reputation of high-handedness. During the COVID epidemic, he had commanded citizens to produce videos of themselves beating utensils failing which their applications will not be considered," Tiwari alleged.

"We could have understood had the youngster been involved in stone-pelting or any type of physical violence himself. But beating up of a tricolour-wielding young man who posed no menace is unacceptable and the official concerned must be punished," Tiwari demanded.

(With PTI Inputs)

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