Published: 12th November 2022
West Bengal: Unsatisfied with Education Board's response, 2014 TET-qualified candidates continue protest
November 12 marks the 87th day of protest. The candidates are staging a sit-in dharna at Dharmatala near the Matangini Hazra statue pedestal in Kolkata
Today, November 12, marks the 87th day of protest of the 2014 TET (Teacher Eligibility Test) qualified candidates in West Bengal. Victims of an alleged recruitment scam, these job seekers have been demanding immediate recruitment.
A mark sheet mix-up?
The candidates allege that they have not been given their mark sheets for the 2014 TET exam even though eight years have gone by. They have filed a plea in the Calcutta High Court, and in a previous hearing, the court had directed the WBBPE (West Bengal Board of Primary Education), which regulates the TET exam in the state, to provide these mark sheets. Then, the board stated that it could not do so before November 14.
However, yesterday, November 11, the mark sheets were released by the WBBPE. But the candidates are not satisfied with them and allege several discrepancies. “There were no names before the marks. Something about the list was strange. Further, the previous WBBPE President, Manik Bandhopadhyay, (now arrested by the Enforcement Directorate) had informed that all the OMR sheets of the 2014 candidates were burnt. But the new Chairman Goutam Paul comes up to say that they have digital records," says Sima Nag, one of the protesting candidates.
Achinta Dhara, another protester, added, "The scores stink of corruption. Only roll numbers and marks were mentioned in the list. Among the general category students, who were more than 1,000 in number, many are now listed in the exempted category and para-teacher category.” The candidates are keen on their marks so as to know whether they qualified for the direct interview or whether they have to appear for a fresh written test, which is scheduled to take place soon.
Apart from the issue of mark sheets, the protesting candidates mention that WB Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had guaranteed jobs in a press conference on November 11, 2020, to 20,000 TET-pass candidates of 2014, who could not be recruited because of the scam. There were 16,500 posts available and it was announced that they would be filled immediately, while the rest of the candidates would be appointed in stages.
The candidates appeared for a fresh round of interviews then. But later, came to find that 3,929 posts are still vacant out of the total 16,500 through an RTI probe. On top of this, the WBBPE announced that all the seats would be divided between 2014 and 2017 TET-qualified candidates. This did not sit well with the 2014 candidates as all the seats were initially promised to them. And yesterday, a division bench of the Calcutta High Court upheld the single bench decision which had asked the board to give the remaining 3,929 posts from the 16,500 to the 2014 candidates.
Protests turn violent
The candidates have been protesting for immediate recruitment in different parts of Kolkata. At the latest, the Karunamoyee protest site (where one group of the candidates were on dharna) near WBBPE was cleared after a court order. Thus, on November 9, the candidates took their protest to Rabindra Sadan in the city, but many were arrested there. “I was carrying a banner so they picked me up immediately as I reached the site,” states Sima.
The protest then shifted to the front of the TMC (Trinamool Congress) Bhavan on Camac Street, but arrests were made there as well. Arunima Pal, a candidate, was allegedly bitten by a cop there twice. She was also arrested and not provided with any medical help at the police station.
A few of the candidates also suffered head injuries and were majorly manhandled with their clothes torn. After the arrests, there were other candidates who went to Sealdah to demand the immediate release of those that were arrested. A protest by them continued till late at night. Police filed several charges against the arrested candidates, a couple of which were non-bailable. However, when they were taken to the court the following day, their charges were all dropped.
On the other hand, a group of TET-pass candidates continues their 87th day at Dharmatala near the Matangini Hazra statue pedestal in Kolkata. They are on a sit-in dharna, which Sima states, would continue till they receive appointment letters from the government, as promised by the CM.