The Uttar Pradesh government has claimed that only three government teachers succumbed to Covid-19 during the recently held panchayat polls.
This is in contradiction to the claims made by various prominent teachers’ bodies that at least 1,600 staff died after contracting the infection while on duty.
The basic education department said its numbers were based on reports submitted by district magistrates across the state so far.
Satya Prakash, under-secretary, basic education department, said, “The department expressed its profound grief over demise of three teachers and has initiated process to provide ex gratia to their kin.”
Uttar Pradesh Prathmik Shikshak Sangh chief, Dinesh Chandra Sharma, refuted the government’s claim and said, “It is unfortunate to see such an indifferent attitude of the basic education department towards government school staff.”
The department said as per the rules of the state election commission, a government official is considered on election duty from the period the employee leaves their residence for attending poll-related training, includes the time of polling and counting work, and ends when they reach their residence after duty.
Additional chief secretary, panchyati raj, Manoj Kumar Singh, said that as per Election Commission of India rules, if polling is scheduled on April 10, then teachers engaged on poll duty report a day before (April 9) and leave the next day (April 11).
“If anything untoward happens during these three days, it will be considered as death on poll duty. But if a teacher did election duty on April 10, tested positive on April 20 and succumbed on April 24, it will not be considered as death on election duty,” he explained.
The death of government teachers on poll duty was also taken up by the Allahabad High Court on May 12 and the judges suggested to the state government that the teachers’ families be given ex-gratia of Rs 1 crore.
The basic education department, however, said the compensation will be paid as per the rules set by the state election commission.