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Minority teachers in Bihar commit suicide
By Afsar Ali, Jamshedpur

In pre-Independence India, secondary high schools in Bihar were established by the donations of well-to-do and generous individuals and institutions. These schools, many of which were run by Muslims, received grant-in-aid from the department of public instruction and were affiliated to the Calcutta and Patna universities which conducted matriculation examinations. After independence the Matriculation examinations were affiliated to the Bihar School Examination Board, Patna and the board of secondary education remained as the recognizing agency of high schools in the state. Thus the minority high schools together with general high schools were established in terms of the conditions laid down in resolutions of 1935 and 1940 of the board of secondary education. This Board of secondary education was re-constituted in the course of time under the state government resolutions which added and deleted certain provisions. 

After independence, articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution of India guaranteed the rights of minorities to preserve their languages, scripts and culture and to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice whether based on religion or language. Hence in matters of establishing and administering high schools in Bihar, minorities were guaranteed facilities under section 9 of the Bihar High School (Control and Regulation of Administration) Act, 1960. This act also validated previous actions in this regard. Further Section 66 of Bihar Secondary Board Ordinance 1974, and Section 69 of Bihar Secondary Board Act 1976, made especial provisions for the recognition of minority institutions. Ultimately, the minority schools of Bihar came under the provisions of Section 18 of Bihar Non-Govt Secondary Schools (Taking over control and administration) Act, 1981. Thus 208 minority high schools in Bihar are recognized and declared in the grant-in-aid category of secondary schools. 

It is worth noting here that free education policy was implemented in Bihar in 1977 and the Government of Bihar also enacted this free education policy in minority high schools. Mr. Parnav Shankar Mukhupadhya, chief secretary of Bihar, issued a government order no H/V-8-0113/77/education 2028 on 5 June 1978 to Bihar Secondary Education Board in Patna alongwith all concerned education departments saying that minority schools teaching and non-teaching employees will get monthly salaries like other government schools. Earlier Mr. Shiv Shankar Das, secretary, Bihar Secondary Education Board, had issued an order (letter no. 15180-340 dated 4 May 1978) to grant the amount-in-aid to all minority secondary schools so that the teaching and non-teaching staff of those schools must get their salaries regularly like the staffs of government high schools.

It is the irony of the situation that since Laloo Yadav and his wife Rabri Devi have become the rulers of Bihar, the condition of minority secondary high school teachers has become worse as the government has neither provided them facilities like those of government high school teachers nor timely granted the required amount-in-aid for their salaries. Under the Congress (I) chief minister Dr. Jagannath Mishra there was no hurdle in these payments. But the condition changed when Laloo Yadav became the chief minister followed by his wife in a state where minorities are these days massacred, tortured, financially crippled, unsafe, neglected and ignored. Minority secondary teachers too became the target of Laloo and Rabri tyranny because Government of Bihar curtailed the amount of grant-in-aid which is Rs 621 million. As a result Government of Bihar started to grant the amount of only nine months once or twice a year. Due to this the minority secondary teachers have not received their salary for the last 42 months in a number of districts like Dhanbad, Giridih, East Champaran, West Champaran, Bhagalpur and for the last 27 months in other districts like East Singhbhum (Jamshedpur) and West Singhbhum. The minority secondary teachers of Jamshedpur have not been paid their salaries since August 1998.. 

According to reports some of the minority secondary teachers have committed suicide in Bihar and some of them have left their service. Some of them have failed to marry their daughters in time while others could not save their dying child by providing proper medical treatment due to lack of money. The situation is quite grim today. Some of the teachers are unable to bring up their families properly and educate their children in reputed institutions. It is ironical that there is none to pay attention to the pitiable condition of the minority secondary teachers who starve to death and commit suicide due to untimely payment of their salaries in Bihar. It is doubly regrettable because RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav had time and again reiterated that he was the well-wisher and 'messiah' of the minority community. Mr. Yadav and his chief minister wife's attitude to the teaching and the non-teaching staff of minority schools has proved that they have little respect for the minority community.

The problem of Bihar minority secondary teachers has been referred to the National Human Rights Commission in Delhi and the commission has taken interest in the matter. Mr. V.P. Sharma: the joint registrar (law) of the National Human Rights Commission issued a 'most immediate' letter no. 4/767/95-LD dated 2 February 1996 to the chief secretary, Government of Bihar, to look into the grievances of minority high school teachers regarding their payment and take appropriate action in the circumstances. Moreover, Patna High Court (Ranchi bench) issued a judgement against CWJC no. 770 of 1994 (R) in favour of all teaching and non-teaching staffs of Nirmala High School, Ranchi, stating that 'necessary grants be released in time so that teachers of the minority schools may not suffer.' Moreover, unlike teaching and non-teaching staff in government schools, minority school staff have not been awarded the new central pay scale revised since 1 January 1996.
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