Over 1,600 teachers and workers of the Basic Education Department have died in Uttar Pradesh since the first week of April due to COVID-19, a teachers’ body said on Tuesday, claiming that 90 per cent of them were on panchayat polls duty.
“As many as 1,621 teachers and workers of the Basic Education Department have died since the first week of April following the outbreak of the second wave of COVID-19 to May 16. Of these 1,621 deaths, more than 90 per cent of the teachers were on panchayat election duty," Dr Dinesh Chandra Sharma, president of the Uttar Pradesh Praathmik Shikshak Sangh, told PTI.
He also claimed while 8-10 people died due to heart attack, the majority of deaths were due to COVID-19. Expressing sorrow over the death of teachers, Satish Chandra Dwivedi, the UP minister of state (independent charge) for basic education, however, said that all these deaths cannot be attributed to elections and according to government data, only three teachers died due to COVID.
In a statement issued here, Sharma said, “phase of the panchayat polls, the count of deceased teachers/workers of the Basic Education Department was 706. and final phase and the counting day, in a span of a fortnight, the number escalated to above 1,600."
In a meeting with the chief secretary on May 1, they were assured that teachers and workers who were ill would be exempted from voting and counting duty for the panchayat elections. However, the action was initiated to either suspend or cut salaries of those people who were ill and did not attend voting and counting duty, the statement said.
The teachers of the Basic Education Department were also allowed to work from home, but despite this, teachers in Lucknow, Unnao, Rae Bareli, Bandam, Basti, Hardoi and other districts were posted at the COVID Control Room, it claimed, adding that these teachers also succumbed to COVID-19. The statement said that not a single official of the Basic Education Department, the UP government, nor any public representative expressed grief over their deaths, despite the fact that these teachers had given Rs 76 crore to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund in the first coronavirus wave.
The teachers’ body demanded that Rs 1 crore be paid to the kin of deceased teachers and workers as financial assistance. Reacting to the statement of the teachers’ body, Satish Chandra Dwivedi told.