BHUBANESWAR: Block grant teachers from across the State, who have been protesting in the Capital for past two months, had to face the wrath of Twin City Police after they showed up at Sishu Bhawan Square and tried to head towards Naveen Niwas on Friday afternoon.
The police, which were taken by surprise, resorted to baton charge to prevent agitating teachers from accessing the prohibitory area. At least 20 teachers suffered injuries in the lathicharge and had to be hospitalised.
The one-km stretch between Rajmahal and Sishu Bhavan square turned into a battlefield as the police took on the teachers who attempted to break the police cordon to proceed towards the Chief Minister’s residence. As the baton-wielding cops went after them, the teachers ran for cover in every direction leaving the entire stretch between Rajmahal and Sishu Bhawan Squares choked for traffic.
Earlier, the teachers who were originally permitted to agitate along Mahatma Gandhi Road formed small groups and congregated near Sishu Bhavan Square. When police learnt of their motive, they put up a barricade at Sishu Bhawan Square. As the teachers tried to break the police cordon, police resorted to lathicharge to drive them away.
Following the scuffle, more than 100 teachers were arrested by the police. Traffic on the Rajmahal-Sishu Bhawan stretch came to a grinding halt for several hours due to the incident.
The agitating teachers said they were proceeding to meet the Chief Minister to present their 9-point charter of demands including full grant-in-aid.
Bhubaneswar DCP Satyabrat Bhoi said the police were forced to take action as the teachers did not heed the warning and were trying to march towards the Chief Minister’s residence. “However, the situation was brought under control,” he said. The injured persons were admitted to Capital Hospital.
The block grant teachers’ association had earlier threatened to stage an agitation on February 5. “The Minister for School and Mass Education Debi Prasad Mishra has conspired with some officials of the Department and betrayed us for last 40 days. We demand full grant-in-aid and shall sit on hunger strike till death if our demands are not fulfilled,” an agitating teacher said.
General secretary of the association Prashant Kumar Mohapatra said during their meeting with the Chief Minister on September 27 last year, they were assured that the Government would fulfill the demands.
Even after repeated assurances, no step has been taken in the last four months and the Government cheated the teachers by announcing a 20 per cent hike in the salary of the secondary school teachers and staff, Mohapatra said.