Scores of teachers have threatened to embrace Islam if their salary demands are not met. The part-time teachers of the Kastoorba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) allege discrimination by the government.
In the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, salaries of school teachers who teach Hindi and Sanskrit have been reduced while those of Urdu teachers have been increased, the teachers say. The teachers claim their monthly salaries were cut from 7,200 Indian rupees (£72) per month to 5,000 (£50) in 2014. It was not clear how much the Urdu teachers are paid, or how exactly the teachers would benefit by converting to Islam.
"We have decided to demonstrate at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on September 14 and convert to Islam if our demands are not met, " a local representative of the KGBV Part-Time Teachers Association, Desh Deepak Dubey, told the Times of India. Some 3,000 part-time teachers at 746 KGBV centres across the state plan to convert to Islam if our demands are not met, he added.
"The government is trying to divide the country on the basis of language. We teach Hindi, Sanskrit and other subjects, and our salary was lowered. But the salary of Urdu teachers was increased. It is very difficult to manage our expenses when even onion is selling at Rs 70/kg. (70p)," Dubey said.
The government has not yet responded to the threat. This is not the first time the KGBV teachers have planned a protest against the government. Since their salaries were reduced in 2014, the teachers have been agitating for better pay. Notably, their latest threat comes days before Teachers' Day celebrations on 5 September.