This Article is From Feb 08, 2010

Punjab teacher dies after setting herself ablaze

Kapurthala: A 27-year-old teacher, who set herself on fire in this Punjab town during a protest, died in a private hospital in Ludhiana early on Monday, doctors said. The state government has announced a grant of Rs.5 lakh for the family of the teacher.
Kiranjit Kaur of Faridkot district died of critical burn wounds on Monday, doctors at Ludhiana's D.M.C. Hospital said.
Kaur had received nearly 90 per cent burn injuries during her self-immolation attempt on Sunday evening. She was taken to a civil hospital here from where she was rushed to the D.M.C. Hospital in Ludhiana, 80 km from here.
Expressing his "pain and shock" at the incident, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs.5 lakh for the family of the teacher.
"I have been deeply pained and shocked by the tragic incident. This is all the more painful as the whole sequence of events is the result of a tragic misunderstanding. All the demands for which the teachers were agitating on Sunday had already been met and the decision put on record after a Cabinet meeting."
"I convey my heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the members of the bereaved family. The decision was also in public domain and hence the misunderstanding is all the more saddening," Badal said here.
Tension prevailed in this town on Monday as many teachers reached here on hearing of Kaur's death.
Kaur was one of the four protesting education guarantee scheme (EGS) women teachers who had climbed on the tower-type water tank at the civil hospital complex here on Sunday afternoon to draw the attention of the government towards their demands.
The EGS teachers, who teach students up to Class 8 under a scheme of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in Punjab's rural areas, were seeking admission to the elementary teachers training (ETT) course for 370 EGS teachers and also regularisation of their services.
As hundreds of other teachers gathered below the water tank to join the protest, Kaur sprinkled petrol and set herself on fire. This led to complete chaos and even police officials, who had gathered there, could do little to save the teacher.
The Bollywood-style protest went horribly wrong when Kaur was critically burnt after she attempted to immolate herself.         

"DSP (deputy superintendent of police) Bahadur Singh instigated the teachers on the tank to go ahead with the self-immolation threat. He should be dismissed and action taken against him," a protesting teacher alleged.
The self-immolation bid took place just 200 metres from Punjab's Education Minister Upinderjit Kaur's residence here. Some teachers tried to go to the minister's residence after Kaur's self-immolation bid but police prevented them from doing so.
Even after Kaur was critically burnt, the other protesting teachers continued to hold their protest on the water tank till the district authorities persuaded them to come down early on Monday morning.
They came down only after a written assurance from district officials on behalf of the education minister that their demands will be met, district officials said. Jalandhar Division Commissioner S.R. Ladhar, Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner R.K. Chaudhary and the district police chief remained present here to sort out the issue with the protesting teachers.