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Home » News » Despite Teacher Union’s Request, SC Allows Rural UP Polls Counting on Sunday: Over 700 Teachers Died on Poll Duty


WE HAVE TAKEN A DECISION TO GO AHEAD — EC to Supreme Court

Following the Election Commission assurance, the Supreme Court has allowed the counting of votes on Sunday. The apex court also raised the concern over a catastrophic surge in Covid-19 cases in India and a petition by a Teachers’ Union which sought postponement of the counting process citing the reason that 700 teachers have already lost their lives during the election duties.

Election Commission assured the top court that curfew will be imposed in the areas nearby counting centres and there will be a complete ban on the victory rallies. They assured that Covid protocol will be followed properly.

The Top Court raised its concern over the disastrous Covid-19 second wave. “Despite the situation, you need to go ahead? Can you have it after two weeks so that the medical facilities can be improved?” asked SC.

The court further stated, “You want to proceed despite all odds? Heavens will not fall if counting is deferred by three weeks.”

However, the Election Commission told the court, “We have taken a decision to go ahead.”

Uttar Pradeshiya Prathmik Shikshak Sangh has written a letter to Uttar Pradesh CM and Election Commission seeking postponement of the counting which was slated for May 2. The four-phase panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh were held between April 15 and April 29.

The Teachers’ Union has stated that over 700 primary, upper primary school government teachers, and other employees succumbed to Covid-19 during the Panchayat elections in UP since April 12.

However, Minister of State (independent charge) for basic education, Satish Chandra Dwivedi refuted the claims and replied quickly, “There’s no specific audit done by basic education department about the number of teachers’ death. It is wrong to say all those who were engaged in election duty died due to Covid. How do we know that teachers were not infected when they came for election duty? And how does anyone know that teachers, after returning from the election duty, got infected for some other reasons? It is also beyond any justification that teachers contracted infection during poll duty and succumbed to it.”

The Minister further added, “Government teachers alone were not doing election duty. There were people from other departments too. We don’t have any data on how teachers got infected and I don’t know how teachers’ association leader has prepared that list of 700 teachers and staff who succumbed to Covid.”

The matter drew everyone’s attention after Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted demanding ₹50 lakh compensation each for those who lost their lives in panchayat polls.

 

A 27-year-old assistant teacher, Kalyani Agrahari was also among those teachers who lost their lives during the Panchayat Polls. She was allegedly forced to perform her duties during Rural UP polls.

She was eight months pregnant and was accompanied by her husband to submit her application stating that it would not be possible for her to continue her service in elections. They travelled 30 kilometres from Pataila gram panchayat to Jaunpur Vikas Bhavan.

“I am a primary school teacher posted at Moina Composite School in Khutahan block. I am assigned at the Panchyat Polls and my code number is 24146. Due to my critical pregnancy, I will not be able to come on duty. Therefore, it is my humble request to the district election officer to relieve me from my duty,” said Agrahari application.

She was allegedly threatened that in case of failing to report on election duty, she would face an FIR and also will not get her salary.

She took her last breath in a Jaunpur hospital 15 days later. She had tested positive for Covid-19.

Allahabad High Court has taken suo moto cognizance of the massive deaths and had issued notice to the UP State Commission on April 27. The issue notice has questioned why action should not be taken against it and officials for not enforcing Covid protocols.

To which, Yogi Adityanath led UP government replied that it has decided not to conduct the Panchayat elections but Allahabad High Court order forced us to conduct the polls before April 30.

“Contrary to the misinformation campaign against the Yogi government, the decision to conduct the elections of the Gram Panchayats stemmed from the directions of the Allahabad High Court to the Government of the State of Uttar Pradesh,” said the statement issued by the UP government.

It further added, “The state government did not want to conduct panchayat elections in 2021, but it was not possible to disobey the orders of the High Court. The Allahabad High Court had asked the Uttar Pradesh government to complete the Direct Elections process of the Panchayats by May 10, 2021. The state Government started the process timely.”


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