Teacher suspended for exchange of words with Union Minister over scarcity of fertiliser

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In the audio clip of the telephonic conversation that had gone viral, Mr. Khuba was heard angrily telling Mr. Patil to approach local officers and Mr. Patil, in his response, daring the minister to win the next election

A file photo of Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Bhagwant Khuba flanked by D. Veda Vyas Kamath, MLA of Mangaluru City South, and Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, who is president of the BJP State unit.

A file photo of Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Bhagwant Khuba flanked by D. Veda Vyas Kamath, MLA of Mangaluru City South, and Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, who is president of the BJP State unit. | Photo Credit: MANJUNATH HS

In the audio clip of the telephonic conversation that had gone viral, Mr. Khuba was heard angrily telling Mr. Patil to approach local officers and Mr. Patil, in his response, daring the minister to win the next election

Kushal Patil, an assistant teacher at Jeerga (K) village in Aurad taluk of Bidar district of Karnataka, has been suspended pending enquiry for calling up Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Bhagwanth Khuba and arguing with him over the unavailability of fertilisers.

Exercising his power conferred under Karnataka Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1957, the Deputy Director of Public Instruction, on June 17, issued the order on charges of ‘dereliction of duty, irresponsibility and misconduct by intentionally recording the telephonic conversation and making it viral on social media platforms’.

In the preamble of the order, the officer referred to the complaint lodged by Deepak Patil Lambori demanding action against Mr. Patil for calling Mr. Khuba at midnight of June 15, 2022, to argue over the shortage of fertilisers and defaming Mr. Khuba by making the telephonic conversation public. The officer referred to media reports and the preliminary enquiry report submitted by the Block Education Officer on the issue.

Mr. Patil told The Hindu that he is the son of a farmer. It is his duty to draw the attention of people’s representatives to the grievances of the farming community and raise his voice against the injustice meted out to farmers, he said.

“I might be a school teacher. But, my family is into agriculture. The Union Government and Mr. Khuba are claiming that there is no dearth of fertilisers. But, the ground reality is that fertilisers are not available in the local market. We are running from pillar to post to get a bag of DAP. In October 2021, we had to go to Telangana to procure fertilisers for sowing Bengal Gram and jowar. Again, we are facing the same problem. My family has 88 acres of land in two places. We require 50 bags of DAP for sowing red gram, green gram and black gram, and another 100 bags of DAP for planting sugarcane. But, we are provided with only one bag of DAP. We have voted Mr. Khuba to power. We have all the rights to approach him when we have a problem,” Mr. Patil said.

Mr. Patil said that he would launch a protest against what he called the ‘dictatorship’ of the Union Minister, apart from seeking legal remedy.

“The district unit of the Teachers’ Association is discussing the issue. We would shortly decide our next course of action. We will launch a protest against the suppression of voices for justice. We will also approach the court,” Mr. Patil said.

In the telephonic conversation, Mr. Khuba is heard telling Mr. Patil to approach local officers and people’s representatives for any grievance regarding the shortage of fertilisers. He was heard saying that he is a Union Minister and cannot attend to such minor issues. The conversation quickly turned into a heated exchange of words between the two. At one point, Mr. Patil dared Mr. Khuba to come to his village and seek votes, and win the next election.

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