Viral on social media, a picture wherein a child is holding a placard reading "No money to buy toys on this Eid as my father is (an) SSA teacher" depicts the struggle of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan teachers who are without salaries for past three months.
The SSA teachers and the state government are at loggerheads over the government's denial in granting the benefits of 7th pay commission to the SSA teachers citing that they were recruited on consolidated basis under the scheme but were regularized by the then government "mistakenly".
The situation has put the SSA teachers in a state of depression as they are without salary for last three months. "I have three kids but I am not able to feed my kids. I am without salaries from past three months," said Gowhar Ahmad, a teacher from Kupwara.
Gowhar says he was appointed in 2004 as SSA teacher and was regularized in 2009. "In the appointment orders all SSA teachers were conveyed that we will be regularised after five years on the analogy of ReT teachers and will be treated as state employee," he said.
"But now after 14 years of my service in the department, the government claims that we were appointed on consolidated basis. If this was the case then why the government deceived us at the day of our engagement," he added.
Given the delay in release of their salary, the SSA teachers say they are facing severe financial hardships.
"All the employees are planning to celebrate Eid with their kids and families but our children are bearing brunt of the government's step-motherly treatment with SSA teachers. My kids don't discuss about Eid celebrations with me because they are now fully aware about my sufferings," said another SSA teacher, Hilal Ahmad of Baramulla.
As of now the SSA teachers have not received salary for the months of February, April and May. They demand that their salary from April must be released in accordance with 7th pay commission.
"The government kept salary of February pending and released for April without benefits of 7th pay commission. We refused to take the salary and asked our concerned ZEOs not to credit it in our accounts," said Chairman JK ReT Teachers' Forum, Farooq Ahmad Tantray.
He said SSA teachers were granted the benefits of the 6th pay commission during the National Conference led coalition government. "If we were treated as state employees when 6th pay commission was implemented then why are we denied benefits of 7th pay commission," asked Tantray.
The aggrieved teachers have now decided to observe Eid as black day and stage a sit-in at Pratap Park, Srinagar to register their protest against the government.
"We will lock down schools from June 11-14 and later observe Eid as black day," Tantray said, adding that government will be given time to de-link their salary from SSA but will continue protests if the 7th pay commission benefits are not given to them.
The government has already constituted a committee, which is supposed to come up with a "workable solution". The committee has sought 34 days time to submit their recommendations to the government.
The minister for education, Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali was not available for his comments.