Valley News Desk

Srinagar: Amid the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of contractual teachers teaching at the degree colleges in Kashmir for around a decade have said the Higher Education Department has denied them their salaries of a year now.

The teachers, who are working as lecturers and teaching assistants at the colleges said in a statement that the department was not allowing them to resume their duties in the first place as it had hired new teachers in their place despite directions by the J&K High Court to continue their services.

Following the recruitment of new teachers under this year’s Academic Arrangement, the college authorities were discriminating and even “harassing” them by labeling them as “surplus teachers” even though they have been teaching at par with the permanent staff, they said.

The aggrieved teachers complained that the department was showing them the door at a time when the prevailing pandemic had put economic activities to a grinding halt and when most of them were about to approach the upper age limit.

They said that there were no options left for them in other sectors now as they had given the “prime of our youth” to the teaching services in the Higher Education Department.

The aggrieved college contractual teachers told Kashmir Reader that the Higher Education was “hell bent to ruin our careers” by denying them their dues and not allowing them to resume duties.

The department, they said, had “unprecedentedly”, withheld their salaries since August last year “on the pretext that there had been no classes at the colleges” due to last year’s Kashmir lockdown against abrogation of Article 370 and this year’s COVID-19 lockdown.

The teachers questioned how the department could withhold their salaries when there had been similar lockdowns during previous academic sessions as well.

Another teacher said that one of their colleagues had passed away in April this year pursuing the court case, but the department was unmoved to release his dues.

“Several others have already crossed the upper age limit. The so called surplus teachers are without a penny in their pockets, but the officials in the department have been taking it personal,” the teacher said.

The aggrieved contractual teachers appealed the department to absorb them into the colleges so that there is no need to go for academic arrangements every year.

Secretary Higher Education Department, Talat Parvez Rohella said that the issue was still in the court of law adding that court directions if any, will be implemented in letter and spirit. (KR)

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