Poll duty blamed for death of 577 teachers in UP

Wednesday 05th May 2021 07:09 EDT

Various teachers’ unions in UP came together to give a list of “577 teachers and support staff who died while doing panchayat poll duty in the state” to the Uttar Pradesh State Election Commission (UPSEC). The unions have now asked teachers to stay away on counting day, May 2. Dinesh Chandra Sharma, president of UP Shikshak Mahasangh (UPSM), has prepared a list of names and addresses of the 577 teachers and shiksha mitras who died following the election duty.
Earlier, the Allahabad HC had sent a notice to the SEC seeking explanation on Covid preparedness and the alleged deaths. A senior teacher’s union leader said, “The court’s issuance of the notice has not benefited teachers because the next date of hearing in this case is May 3, which is a day after counting day. What was needed was postponement of counting, if not the fourth phase of elections on April 29.” Special work officer, SEC, S K Singh has issued a letter to all the DMs, SPs and district electoral officers to check the truth about the deaths of the teachers being reported in their district and provide a report within 24 hours.
Sharma said they are yet to receive information on the health of teachers on election duties from several districts like Fatehpur, Balrampur, Shamli, Aligarh and Hamirpur. “I am afraid about the numbers. Their families are also affected. The situation is extremely critical,” he said.
“We had requested the SEC, after there was a surge in cases on April 12, to postpone the polls but our request was ignored. We may be forced to boycott counting duty,” added Sharma. District presidents of another union, Rashtriya Shaikshik Mahasangh, have also given a memorandum to the SEC’s office in all the districts of the state.
In Bijnor, 4,000 government employees, including teachers, have been deputed for vote counting but there’s widespread fear among them. Senior vice-president of UP Primary Teacher association, Rajendra Singh, said, “Polls have already done the damage. Now counting may wreak more havoc. We are living in fear.” Employees who have been selected for counting duty are working overtime to get their names removed from the list but with little success. In fact, officials went ahead and organised a training session for the staff.

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