700 Govt School Staff Died On Election Duty, UP Teachers’ Union Writes To CM, EC

Satish Chandra Dwivedi, the state minister of state (independent charge) for basic education, said it was wrong to say that the teachers on poll duty died of Covid.

At least 700 state government school employees on panchayat poll duty succumbed to Covid in Uttar Pradesh this month, the state teachers’ union said on Friday. the union underlined the risk of flouting Covid norms during a devastating surge in infections.

The Uttar Pradeshiya Prathmik Shikshak Sangh, in letters to chief minister Yogi Adityanath and the state election commission (SEC), listed the names of all deceased and said they were infected during training and poll duty. The state election commissioner Manoj Kumar on Friday asked district magistrates to ensure setting up of medical health desks at the counting centres with the availability of medicines and the deployment of doctors. However, the SEC did not comment on the association’s demand to defer counting.

Between April 15 and 29, the four-phase panchayat polls for around 850,000 local body seats were held. Denying the allegations, the state government has said that it has no proof that the teachers died during poll duty.

The particular matter reached the Supreme Court on Friday, after which the Apex Court issued notices to the state government and SEC on a plea related to enforcement of Covid norms during the counting of votes on Sunday. “What measures will the state election commission take for counting?” the court asked, and said it will hear the matter on Saturday.

The Allahabad high court had also come down heavily on the administration and SEC over violation of Covid protocol during the polls and asked them why action shouldn’t be taken against election officials.

The counting of votes on Sunday be deferred, the Uttar Pradeshiya Prathmik Shikshak Sangh demanded in its letter. In the last three weeks, he sent several letters to the chief minister and SEC to defer elections as several lives were lost, Association president Dinesh Chandra Sharma said.

A maximum of 33 teachers died in Azamgarh district, 31 in Gorakhpur, 25 in Prayagraj and 20 each in Lucknow and Lakhimpur Kheri districts. “Many of these lives could have been saved had the SEC taken note of our April 12 letter in which I pointed out that Covid protocol was not being followed during training,” he said.

The Uttar Pradesh government denied the allegations.

Satish Chandra Dwivedi, the state minister of state (independent charge) for basic education, said it was wrong to say that the teachers on poll duty died of Covid.

“There’s no specific audit done by basic education department about the number of teachers’ death…How do we know that teachers were not infected when they came for election duty? And how do we know that teachers did not get infected after returning from election duty ?” he said.

If Sharma wrote to Adityanath and SEC, it was up to them to take a call on the demands, he further said.



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