COVID-19: UP teachers' union says 577 teachers died on panchayat poll duty; govt denies claims

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Shikshak Mahasangh has claimed that about 577 teachers, who were on Panchayat Poll duties, have so far died due to coronavirus across the state. The Mahasangh has urged the State Election Commission to defer counting on May 2.

The Mahasngh has submitted names of 577 basic education teachers who succumbed to deadly virus while performing poll duties in 71 districts of the state. The President of the Mahasngh Dinesh Chandra Sharma said out of total 13,000 basic education teachers, over 1000 have tested positive on their return from poll duties.

He claimed that the details of many districts are yet to come. “The number may increase further. The majority of them got infected during poll duties. We had urged the government to cancel polls on April 12 when a large number of teachers tested positive. But our request was ignored,” he alleged.

Sharma claimed that the situation was very critical and basic education teachers are under the grip of fear and panic and have refused to go on duties on counting day on May 2. “We request the commission to postpone counting or else we will be forced to boycott duties,” he warned.

Earlier, the Allahabad High Court had issued notices to the State Election Commission seeking explanation on the death of 135 teachers during poll duties.

The High Court had also pulled up the State Election Commission for its failure to enforce Covid-19 protocol and guidelines.

The Commission has sought details from the District Magistrates and SSPs for submitting a report to the High Court on May 3 when the case comes up for hearing.

A government spokesman, however, denied deaths of 577 basic education teachers due to coronavirus while they were on poll duties.

“Data we have received so far did not suggest such a large number of deaths during polls duties. Report is being compiled and it will expose lies being spread to defame the state government,” said the spokesman.

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