Srinagar: For the past week, dozens of contractual
college teachers in Kashmir Valley have been on an indefinite fast
in Srinagar demanding a wage hike. But theirs could be a lost
cause at a time when most locals are busy fasting for entirely
The teachers' agitation seems to have gone unnoticed as in
Muslim-dominated Jammu and Kashmir, most people are observing a
dawn-to-dusk fast during the holy month of Ramzan that began
"For the last six days the hunger strike has been going on in the
Press Enclave area of Srinagar and nobody in the government has
bothered to even speak to us," said a protester.
"We had been on strike for over two months and after our demands
were not even heard, we have now been forced to go on an
indefinite fast," he said.
Abid Khaliq, 35, a contractual teacher, who has done his doctorate
in sericulture sciences, said: "Many of our colleagues on
indefinite fast fainted due to dehydration and hunger and were
shifted to hospital in semi-conscious state.
"A contractual teacher draws Rs.8,000 per month while a permanent
teacher in the same college draws around Rs.70,000 per month," he
said. "Even a peon in the college where I teach draws Rs.18,000
per month," he said.
"What respect would I command among my students despite doing a
Ph.D. in sericulture sciences?" Khaliq said.
Around 90 percent of teachers in various government colleges in
the valley are on contract. College students continue to suffer as
lectures have been hit due to the stir.
"For the last two months the contractual teachers have been on
strike, teaching work in colleges has come to a halt. My son goes
to the college where he attends just two classes, for the rest,
there are no teachers," said Muneer Ahmad, 54, a parent here.
Ironically, the teachers' hunger strike coincides with the
traditional month of fasting, Ramzan.
"Basically all of us are fasting in Kashmir these days because of
the holy month of Ramzan. Perhaps that is one reason why these
poor teachers are not getting the attention they deserve," said
Irfan Manzoor, a local photo journalist here.
The striking college teachers allege the government has not
implemented a court order which said that contractual teachers
should be paid basic salary equivalent to their permanent
counterparts, as per the principle of equal pay for equal work.
"They did not implement the court order. We want a job policy for
contractual lecturers as the one the government has prepared for
doctors and teachers," said Javaid Ahmad, 32, another college
"A doctor is supposed to serve on contract for seven years after
which his services are regularised. A Rehbar-e-Taleem (teacher)
serves for three years on a consolidated pay after which he is put
in the regular grade," he said.
"Why the disparity with the contractual teachers? Is it because
none of us is the son of a minister or a senior bureaucrat?" asked
Ahmad, claiming that he spent Rs.150 daily on transport to reach
the north Kashmir Kupwara college where he was posted as a
"I am finally left with Rs.3,500 at the end of the month. How can
I support my family in just Rs.3,500?" Ahmad said.
"We are now supposed to take six classes daily instead of the
usual four classes as was the norm previously. This has been done
only to ensure that more vacancies of teachers at the college
level are created," he said.
As a matter of practice for the last many years now, contractual
teachers are disengaged Feb 28 each year and engaged again as the
academic session begins in April.
"Some of us have been going on like that for more than 12 years
now - living in absolute uncertainty and chaos," said a protester.
"We called on an officer in the civil secretariat and we were told
that we are an inefficient lot and that is why we have not been
able to make it to regular jobs in the government through a
process of selection," he said.
"Does this also mean that it is the inefficient and the useless
among the educated class who are being engaged by the government
to teach college students who are the future of this state?" asked
a striking teacher.
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