TET 2014 qualified candidates on hunger strike in Kolkata, demand immediate recruitment 

The 2014 TET-qualified candidates are staging all-night protests outside the WBBPE office in Karunamoyee, Kolkata 
TET 2014 qualifiers stage protest in Kolkata's Karunamoyee | (Pic: Achinta Dhara)
TET 2014 qualifiers stage protest in Kolkata's Karunamoyee | (Pic: Achinta Dhara)

Job seekers who qualified for the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) in 2014 have been protesting outside the office of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education (WBBPE) in Karunamoyee, Kolkata, since Monday, October 17. They have been staging all-night protests and are on indefinite hunger strike till their demand for immediate recruitment at state-run schools is met.

Around three thousand people are at the protest site and they allege, referring to recruitment irregularities, that jobs belonging to them were given to candidates in exchange for money. “Unqualified candidates were sent appointment letters through SMS and no merit list was ever published. We have already appeared for TET interview twice after qualifying, now we want immediate recruitment and we’ll settle for nothing less,” says Achintya Samanta, one of the job-seekers who lost eight years due to this scam and considers this issue the reason behind his current financial instability. 

Images from the protest

Eight years lost
The 2014 TET-qualified candidates have been deprived of their job for the last 8 years. In a letter addressed to the President of the WBBPE, Prof Goutam Paul, by a protesting organisation called 2014 Qualified Trained Not Included Candidates Ekota Mancha, refers to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s announcement in a press conference on November 11, 2020, of guaranteeing jobs to 20,000 2014 TET pass candidates. Achintya Dhara, the prolocutor of the organisation, says, “Amongst the 20,000 jobs, only 12,500 have been allocated so far. We sat for a second round of interviews in 2021 and were again not provided with any marks or merit list. Our result solely states that we are ‘not included in the present merit list.’” Achintya Dhara, who was only 27 in 2014 and is now almost 35, expressed disappointment over the 8 years he has lost but finds his hope in the protest. He says, “No one can return the years I have lost, but I hope they do something to keep the words of our Chief Minister. I never wanted to fight, just wanted to contribute to the society as a teacher but now we are forced to take the street. Only so much injustice can a man stand.”

Protests over the years
These candidates took to the streets several times, in several locations; from the front porch of the DM office to Nabanna where resides the temporary State Secretariat. There is also an ongoing protest at Dharmatala’s Matangini Hazra’s statue pedestal and October 19 marks its 65th day. “We were hoping that after the Chief Minister’s announcement we would be recruited, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. We were informed that vacancies were filled up. We filed an RTI to learn that only 12,500 seats have been filled so far. Now, the new President of WBBPE says those seats will be divided between the 2014 and 2017 candidates,” remarks Achintya Samanta. 

Chief Minister’s announcement and other discrepancies
Goutam Paul, the new President of WBBPE replaced the former Chairman Manik Bhattacharya, who was recently arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for alleged involvement in recruitment scams and irregularities. The WBBPE has published a new notification for the recruitment of candidates for available posts but they will not be exclusive to the 2014 candidates, which the protesters say goes against what the Chief Minister had initially announced. “We are not willing to sit for another interview. They should now release the details of the previous recruitment process along with marks and merit list. We have already appeared for two interviews and we will not sit for another one,” says Sujit Bera, another of the protesting candidates, adding, “Why should we sit for a fresh round of examination? We have been carrying the brunt of a huge education scam, and now they should compensate. We cannot compete with the 2017 batch candidates because we have a huge education gap.” 

Candidates protesting outside the WBBPE office 

Picking up pieces of one’s 20s
These unabsorbed candidates have resorted to small-scale, unstable jobs after failing to seek an opportunity through TET. After losing 8 years of their lives, these candidates are picking up pieces of their 20s as they continue with their indefinite hunger strike on the streets of Karunamoyee. “I was 25 when I appeared for TET 2014, now it has been eight years that I have been deprived of the opportunity I deserve; it has been stolen from me. The dream of becoming a teacher has been stolen. I will remain here on the streets till I don’t get that appointment letter,” concludes Achintya Samanta, who has been sleeping on the street for the last couple of days. 

The demands of the protesters
The TET Qualified Trained Not Included Candidates Ekota Mancha organisation has released a list of demands and grievances that they shared with EdexLive:

  • Being deprived of a job despite appearing for an interview twice and despite Nabanna’s announcement on November 11, 2020.
  • To not be considered despite the job advertisement of recruitment of 16,500 candidates for the empanelment of unabsorbed TET 2014 qualified candidates. (Memo no. 1915/BPE/2020)
  • Not being provided with information about what happened to the Embarked 1752 seats which were converted into Non-embarked. Neither were we provided with information about the non-joining seats. (Memo no.740/BPE/2021)
  • Merit lists with marks were never released by the board. We request their immediate release.
  • From the list given to the court which is hung in all district primary education councils, 19157 vacancies remain. Despite the large number of vacancies being deprived of jobs. (Dated: 17.03.2021)
  • Candidates who went to court to receive grace marks for the wrong question have been appointed for the post after receiving the marks. Those who didn’t go to the court remain deprived of those marks which might have boosted their rank on the merit list
  • Proven corruption in the 2014 TET examination makes these candidates victims and that demands redressal of the wrong done to them. Thus, we request replacing undeserving candidates with deserving ones.
  • Not willing to appear for fresh recruitment exams with younger candidates whose educational qualifications might be far higher and hard to compete with.
  • Request to consider this as a humanitarian issue which has driven quite a few candidates to commit suicide and appeal for fast recruitment of all candidates.

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