Bengal madrasa teachers strike set to enter 31st day

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A relay hunger strike by teachers of unrecognised madrasas of West Bengal, demanding better pay and government aid, was set to enter the 31st day on Saturday.

A group of teachers affiliated to the West Bengal Madarsa Siksha Kendras (MSK) Staff Welfare Association have been on a relay hunger strike near Haji Mohammad Mohsin Square in central Kolkata. They are demanding inclusion of 495 madrasas under the state Madrasa Education Board.

The madrasas seeking recognition are MSKs, Shishu Shiksha Kendras (SSKs) and Madhyamik Shiksha Kendras.

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According to a representative of the welfare association, the state government has gone back on its promise of giving recognition to the madrasas.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her government couldn’t offer financial association to the madrasas because of fund crunch, the representative said.

Meanwhile the Opposition — Congress and Left Front — have reached out and expressed solidarity with the agitating teachers.

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“Her (Banerjee’s) party members have not visited us but the other parties have supported us. We will continue with the protest,” the representative said.

The Left and Congress want nearly 500 minority institutions to be brought under the West Bengal Board of Madarsa Education.

The Left and the Congress leaders have promised legal and financial aid to about 6,000 minority teachers, with an eye on the upcoming assembly polls.

“You have been risking your lives here, sitting on this strike. One of your colleagues has already died on account of illness following her participation in the strike. Does the government care?” Congress leader Abdul Mannan was quoted as saying by The Telegraph newspaper.

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“The chief minister… promises the moon to the minorities before elections and then ignores their needs when it comes to actual delivery…she is unmoved,” Abdus Sattar said.

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