Four teachers, who were among more than 150 protesters who had gathered at the Freedom Park here on Thursday demanding the release of grant-in-aid to unaided Kannada schools, attempted suicide by consuming pesticide.
Minutes after giving an interview to a television news channel, H K Lohith (30), a schoolteacher from Mandya, consumed pesticide stored in a water bottle, around 4.30 pm. Three others — Jayavardhan Naik (30) and Mahesh (31) from Periyaptna, Mysore district, and Devaraj (30) from Sakleshpur, Hassan district — followed him soon after.
As the situation turned grave, bystanders called the jurisdictional police. The four were then taken to the K C General Hospital in Malleswaram where doctors removed the toxic residue from their bodies. Since the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the hospital could accommodate only two people, Lohith and Naik were taken to the ICU at the Victoria Hospital.
All the four were out of danger, doctors said. Dr Vimala Patil, the Resident Medical Officer at KC General Hospital, told Deccan Herald: “Mahesh and Devaraj are stable and kept under observation.”
The teachers have been urging the government to release grant-in-aid to 308 schools established between 1987 and 1995-96. They said they were poorly paid despite working for long hours.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Kimmane Ratnakar, visited the teachers at both the hospitals late in the evening. He later said that the government had decided to release the grant-in-aid to 135 schools. Ratnakar regretted that the teachers acted “in haste”. The government would soon decide on extending the grant-in-aid to the remaining schools, he added.
Kaverigowda, a teacher from Chennegowda High School, Maddur taluk in Mandya district, accused the government of being “indifferent” to the teachers’ plight “despite so many protests”. “We had planned to commit suicide during the Belgaum session of the Legislative Assembly but kept quiet, hoping that the government would fulfill its promises,” he added.
MLC, Y A Narayanaswamy, termed the incident “unfortunate”. He said officials of the Department of Public Instruction indulged in corruption and were “indifferent” to the teachers’ plight. “There is no dearth of funds. The problem persists because of the lack of coordination between the government and the bureaucrats.”