The West Bengal government has issued transfer orders to two teachers in Darjeeling for allegedly indulging in “anti-government activities”, reported The Indian Express on Monday.
The district administration wrote to the state School Education Department, accusing the teachers of “trying to stir up unrest” in the hills, and requested their transfer to Midnapore or Burdwan divisions. A copy of the letter addressed to the principal secretary of the School Education Department was verified by The Indian Express.
“There are government servants in different departments, including teachers, who have stayed back in Darjeeling for years without transfers,” said Darjeeling District Magistrate Joyoshi Das Gupta. “A section of such officials neglect duty and services, and welfare schemes do not reach the people. Moreover, it has been found that they have been involved in acts unbecoming of government employees and stirring up locals. Action is being taken according to rules.”
Gupta said the teachers were found to stir up unrest “by making false promises to locals in the name of forest rights”. “In one case, a teacher was also found spreading misinformation through social media,” she said. Gupta added six to seven government employees, including teachers and nurses, have been transferred from Darjeeling “for acts unbecoming of a government employee” in the last one year.
An unidentified senior government official told the daily that the school where the teachers worked was found shut on a working day. “We are also following up on cases against government [employees] during the 105-day shutdown here,” said the official.
One of the teachers, Lila Kumar Gurung, said he received the transfer letter on Saturday and will go to court to fight his case. “I was involved in a democratic agitation for rights of forest land,” Gurung said. “I spoke with the local residents and we demanded that Forest Rights Act 2006 be properly implemented in Darjeeling. I think that is why I am being transferred. Education is under Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, but the letter has been sent by the school education department.”
An unidentified government official said Gurung was “found to stir up local residents”. “Despite being a government employee, he has been found to make anti-government statements on social media.”
Gorkhaland Territorial Administration is a semi-autonomous body that administers the Darjeeling hill areas and Kalimpong districts, headed by Binay Tamang.
Gorkha National Liberation Front spokesperson Neeraj Zimba criticised the move. “The transfer order of Lila Kumar Gurung is part of Binay Tamang’s political dealings as openly declared by him in public meetings,” Zimba said. “For the first time in the history of Gorkha politics, we have seen a nominated stooge openly declare from a public platform that he will politically victimise all those who do not support him,” Zimba said.