India: Union calls for end to election process as election duty teachers die from COVID-19
The All India Primary Teachers Federation (AIPTF) has urged the government to stop the election process until the public health crisis is under better control. The call comes as the AIPTF mourns the deaths of many teachers after they were infected with COVID-19 during polling duties at recent elections in Uttar Pradesh.
Approximately 170 teachers lost their lives to COVID-19 while on election duty in the state, according to members of the AIPTF Uttar Pradesh branch.
“We all are aware that a second wave of the pandemic has hit the country and that the situation is very bleak,” said AIPTF President Ram Pal Singh. “All people, irrespective of their socio-economic status, have been affected by the pandemic.” He made his comments in a letter dated 27 April and addressed to the Election Commissioner of India, Sh. Sushil Chandra.
Elections are not a priority now
Holding the Assembly or Panchayat elections is not a priority for the nation at a time when a pandemic is raging, said Singh.
Acknowledging that the election ballot work by teachers and other state employees represents “very important duties for development and growth of our country”, the AIPTF leader insisted that it is not a good time for these types of duties.
AIPTF, present in 25 states across India with 2.3 million members, demands that:
- Teachers who lost their lives while performing election duties be replaced with other frontline workers.
- Families of deceased teachers receive minimum 50 Indian lakhs (US$75).
- A job be given to a member of the family of a deceased teacher, so that they can lead decent lives.
The education union has urged public authorities to stop the counting of votes and voting for the last phase of the elections to the Uttar Pradesh’s legislative assembly.
Support of teachers
Singh added that AIPTF has assured the Election Commissioner of India “that all possible support will be extended to the government by the teaching fraternity in the country in such difficult times”.
He concluded: “We hope that you will pay attention to our just and humane demands and win the hearts of millions of teachers.”