Teachers asked to undergo training for Kapal Mochan Mela, Opposition fumes

By: | Published: November 2, 2017 1:51 AM

In a controversial order, government school teachers were asked to attend a training programme to help priests at a religious festival in Haryana's Yamunanagar.

Teachers, Haryana, Kapal Mochan Mela, angry reaction Opposition, Haryana YamunanagarIn a controversial order, government school teachers were asked to attend a training programme to help priests at a religious festival in Haryana?s Yamunanagar

In a controversial order, government school teachers were asked to attend a training programme to help priests at a religious festival in Haryana’s Yamunanagar, triggering angry reactions from the Opposition and teachers’ bodies. The teachers were asked to enrol for a programme for the Kapal Mochan Mela in Yamunanagar by the local administration. A section of teachers said they were asked to perform odd jobs such as distributing ‘prasad’ among the devotees at the fair, which began today. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar told reporters here today his government had not given any such direction. “This may be a local arrangement, but from our side, there is no such direction,” he said. A senior official of the Yamunanagar district administration said around 600 government employees, including teachers, were deployed to perform miscellaneous tasks such as managing the crowd and assisting the priests. Twenty-six of the 109 teachers, who were supposed to have attended the training imparted by the administration on October 29, stayed away from it.

The teachers were asked to turn up for the programme at the Kapal Mochan Mela office in Yamunanagar district at 1 pm on October 29. When many failed to do so, the administration sought an explanation from the district education officer concerned on why they had not participated in the event and asked for departmental disciplinary action against them. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala took a dig at the Khattar government on Twitter saying, “Teachers will become priests now, the future of students depends on god.” He also posted a document dated October 29, purportedly signed by the Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO), Bilaspur (which comes under Yamunanagar district), directing the teachers who were absent at the training programme on the said date to attend a similar programme the next day. The document also warned the teachers of disciplinary action if they failed to do so. The four-day fair has attracted nearly two lakh pilgrims from several states, including Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan. The Yamunanagar district administration official said nearly five lakh devotees took part in the event every year. “It is wrong to say that the teachers were asked to perform the rituals of the priests,” he added. However, Jaidev Arya, the state adviser to the Haryana Teachers’ Association, dubbed the government order a “Tughlaki farman (whimsical diktat)” and “unwarranted”.

“We oppose this Tughlaki farman. A teacher should not be put on such duties. It is not the duty of the teachers to perform puja and distribute prasad. We oppose such decisions of the state government,” he told reporters in Yamunanagar. Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda hit out at the Khattar government saying that on one hand, there was a shortage of teachers in the government schools and on the other hand, teachers were being forced to play the role of priests. Khattar’s ministers and BJP MLAs should perform such tasks instead, Hooda said. “Ever since the BJP government came to power in Haryana three years ago, the standards of education have gone down. The schools are not being upgraded, there is a shortage of teachers, but the Khattar government is not concerned about this. Rather, it is worried about how to make the teachers distribute prasad and perform puja,” he said.

He added that the Khattar government should open a recruitment centre to hire priests to do such jobs at these events. “Everyone knows that this government has failed on all fronts. So, why does the chief minister not give some work to his ministers and MLAs? They should perform the task given to the teachers, who have a greater responsibility of teaching the students and shape their future,” Hooda, who has been the chief minister of the state twice, said.

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