Teachers in Bathinda, in the Punjab region of India, have once again been attacked by police.  The teachers, most of them women, were lathi charged by police causing three of them to jump into the canal in terror, from which they had to be rescued. The rescued teachers were then beaten up by police as they were taken to the police station, according to reports. Teachers who tried to take shelter in houses were dragged out and assaulted and women teachers were dragged by the hair.

The teachers, who are all on temporary contracts, were demanding a salary increase on their present $79 a month and permanent contracts. Their organisation is named after Kiranjit Kaur, a 27 year old woman who set fire to herself 5 years ago, and died, in protest at the treatment of contract teachers in the state. 

11 teachers are in police custody, a situation which is causing protest to spread throughout the state, with teachers sitting on top of a water tower (the place where Kiranjit killed herself) and other teachers forming human chains to block highways. Teachers have threatened more action across Punjab if the teachers are not released. 

This is just the latest chapter in the long struggle of teachers in India for permanent contracts. Earlier this year hundreds of thousands of teachers closed schools all over the same state on the same issue, and were supported by their permanent colleagues. More often than not such struggles are met with police brutality.

The cynicism of the Indian federal and many state governments, in treating their teachers with such contempt and brutality is breathtaking. This is especially so when you consider that many of them were hired on the so-called Education for All scheme (SSA). It is of a piece and heavily influenced by policy paper after policy paper from the World Bank which recommend temporary contracts for teachers as a way of saving money and disciplining staff. In other words the very people, public school teachers, who are struggling to bring education to the masses of low income children are impoverished and victimised.