Teachers yet again called for election duty

Srinagar: J&K government has once again engaged government school teachers as Booth Level Officers (BLOs), in various districts, affecting the academic session in the educational institutions.

The development comes despite education minister’s statement that government teachers will be relieved from all non-teaching assignments including election related duties.

However, the statement seems to have remained confined to papers as hundreds of government school teachers designated as BLOs have been asked to attend summary revision of photo electoral and training programme for smooth conduct of the election process.

Interestingly, the teachers deputed as BLOs have been warned of action under provisions of Election rules if they fail to adhere to the guidelines issued by Election Commission of India (ECI).

“It has come to notice of this office that  some district officers do not allow their subordinate staff associated with election work, to attend the said job. Some officials do not pay any heed to this important job which is a time bound programme,” reads a circular issued by deputy Commissioner Baramulla who is also the district election officer.

The deputy Commissioner while referring to GAD circular has stated that officials/officers associated directly or indirectly with election work are deemed to be on deputation to ECI.

“And any officer  found guilty in any manner what so ever in respect of the election work shall be liable to action under the relevant provisions of election rules,” reads the circular.

Following the directions, the concerned Chief Education Officers (CEO’s) and Zonal Education Officers (ZEO’s) have deputed scores of teachers for the said election training purpose leaving students at the receiving end.

“Three out of five staff members have been designated as BLOs and have been deputed for election duty. We are only two staff members here to run the show which is injustice with the students,” said a teacher from Sopore, wishing not to be named.

It may be recalled that the education minister Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari earlier had stated that government will relieve teachers from all non teaching assignments and will be asked to “concentrate on academics in schools.”

The Minister had issued this statement a week before the bypolls for Srinagar parliamentary seat. During the elections, the government school teachers were again deputed for polling duty. The Minister however, claimed that he had tried to relieve almost 80 percent teachers from election duty.

“I couldn’t relieve all the teachers but made an effort to relieve some teachers from election duty,” the Minister according to media reports had said.

However, the fresh circular has contradicted the education minister’s statement wherein government again has engaged hundreds of teachers for election duty.

Secretary School Education Farooq Ahmad Shah however, said the matter will be taken up with the government to sort it out.

“We will raise this issue with the government and election authorities and seek detachment of teachers from election work,” Shah said.

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