A notification was issued on Friday by the education department to officials across the state whereby it has been ordered that teaching staff of schools be sensitized about “nashamukti” and encouraged to share information about violation of the ban on sale and consumption of alcohol, which has been in force for nearly six years.
The communication assures that identity of teachers who blow the whistle would not be disclosed. Teachers have also been told to ensure that premises of the schools do not end up as havens for illicit liquor business.
The development has evoked outrage from opposition parties which have slammed the government for saddling teachers with yet another non-teaching task.
“A few years ago, teachers were asked to ensure that people did not defecate in the open and embarrass the government over its questionable open defecation free claims. Now they have come up with another foolishness,” said Congress spokesman Asit Tiwari.
RJD chief spokesman and MLA Bhai Virendra termed the order as “Tughlaqi” (arbitrary) and one which could endanger the lives of teachers by bringing them in direct conflict with powerful “liquor mafia”.
Teachers appear to be in agreement with the view. Ashwini Pandey, spokesman of an association of teachers, came out with a video statement to the effect.
“The Right to Education Act entails that teachers must not be made to perform non-teaching tasks. The government is requested to withdraw this order”, Pandey said.
The ruling NDA has, predictably, sulked and accused the opposition of making a fuss.
“Teachers have a very important role in shaping the society. There is nothing wrong if they are asked to join the battle against alcoholism, which is a social evil,” said BJP spokesman Prem Ranjan Patel.
Former minister Neeraj Kumar, who is an MLC and spokesman of the Chief Minister’s JD(U), charged the opposition with misleading people by calling the order “arbitrary”.
“What is arbitrary in this? Have the teachers been threatened with any disciplinary action? Did not the teachers play an important role in making the human chain in support of prohibition a success,” asked Kumar.
The government has been in a tizzy in the wake of hooch tragedies that have claimed more than 50 lives across half a dozen districts since November last year, bringing the much-touted prohibition law under scanner.