Delhi school teachers posted as night watchmen, Sisodia comes to their rescue

After a host of Covid related work, five teachers were tasked with checking and preventing rise of bird flu

The Delhi government has given another task to teachers – unrelated to teaching – leaving them feeling insulted. This time it is on bird flu duty, to watch the borders of Delhi so birds being transported in are not allowed without the prerequisite checks. Teams consisting of one teacher and two civil defence volunteers have been set up at five border points, enforcing the order from 8pm to 6am since January 12.

Sandeep Dabas, a teacher at a North MCD school, sounded defeated a day after the order came through by the revenue department. “Yesterday was our first night at the border. I don’t know how long it will last, it could go on for a month or even more. I did all the duties during Covid relief work, even at quarantine centres. Now they have put me on this job, next you’ll make us clean the gutters as well. What role does a teacher have in such a job?”

Dabas also claims that despite all the hats he has worn during the pandemic, his salary for the past six months has not been paid to him. The frustrated primary school teacher at Narela’s Prahladpur can’t understand why the government continually gives tasks to teachers which have nothing to do with their job.

“Which vehicle can be stopped by us? We are in civil dress (no uniform). No one will listen to us. Even the civil defence volunteers don’t have a weapon on them, not even a stick. Someone will kick us and run off, what can we do? Do we fight with them now? And they had to give us night duty, what is the point of this? It would have been better if I had gotten myself into the police force, if this is the work I have to be doing anyway. I don’t know what to do, I can only quit if I don’t want to do this sort of work.”

In its order on January 12, the revenue department stated that “no vehicle carrying live poultry birds is allowed to enter Delhi without a valid veterinary health certificate from the authorized veterinarian of the concerned state government declaring the farm of origin of birds as free from any infectious and contagious disease of birds.” It also added that “entry/sale of dressed, processed and canned chicken and its products are not allowed in Delhi”. So, the team including the teachers would have to enforce this.

Ajay Veer Yadav, general secretary of Government School Teachers Association (GSTA) said it was extremely unfortunate that this new task had been given to the five teachers of government schools. He has now written a letter to the Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, accusing the revenue department of taking “advantage of the situation” and “harassing teachers into unjustified duties”.

Asking Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia to “safeguard their dignity”, Yadav requested to stop “such deputation of teaching community and facilitate for them to be sent back to the schools for their designated work”. After a letter was sent out to Sisodia apprising him of the situation, he has on January 14 — two days after the order — removed teachers from the night watchmen duty. In his order he wrote “teachers are not meant for this kind of duty.”

Teachers, since Covid-19 outbreak, have been tasked with various jobs. These have included giving out rations during the lockdown, manning quarantine facilities and containment zones, issuing challans to those disobeying Covid distancing rules, and the most recent duty: they will be working at vaccination centres. 


(Cover: Representational Image – Getty)
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