The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Name row leaves students school-less

Krishnagar, June 19: About 150 students were turned out of their school and are now being forced to attend classes under a tin shed in scorching heat on a vacant vested land in a Nadia village.

The land for the junior high school was donated by a widow, Sandhya Balu, on condition that the institution will be named after her late husband, Dinanath.

After the authorities went back on their promise, she refused to part with her plot. Sandhya, 35, said she was sorry for what she had done but added in the same breath that she felt 'cheated'.

When the local panchayat was looking for land for the school at Digolkandi a year ago, it came to know about the widow's wish and informed the block development officer.

Sandhya gave it in writing that she was willing to donate the land if the school built on it was named after Dinanath, who was killed after lightning struck him three years ago.

The officer provided funds to the panchayat, which constructed the single-storeyed building, almost 200 km from Calcutta. Digolkandi Madhyamik Siksha Kendra started last year and the school managing committee agreed to name it after Dinanath.

But a month ago, when the deed for the transfer of property was being drawn up, the managing committee went back on its word.

Sandhya, too, backtracked on her promise and refused to hand over the land. She asked the 150 students who had enrolled and five teachers to vacate her property a fortnight ago.

'I know that I have not done the right thing by asking the innocent students to vacate my land. But I was left with no other option' the authorities cheated me. They changed their mind and refused to name the school after my husband. He used to help poor students when he was alive,' she said.

Dinanath was an affluent farmer and left behind about eight bighas of agricultural land and a house. His widow earns well from crops. Money could not be a motive behind her change of mind. Her daughter is a BA student at Pannalal College in Karimpur.

But the school management found faults with her, not its decision. Kartick Mondal, the chief of the Digolkandi village panchayat and the managing committee's secretary, asked: 'How can she (Sandhya) suddenly go back on her decision, jeopardising the future of so many students'

He added: 'She wrote to us saying she was ready to donate the two-cottah' Though we know Dinanath was good man and helped poor students, the managing committee decided against naming the school after an individual.'

The students' plight was not restricted to being herded out of the building. After they took shelter under the tin shed, the land department lodged an FIR against the managing committee, demanding that they vacate the land.

Chanchal Ghosh, a Class V student, said: 'We have no where to go.'

Tehatta subdivisional officer Anindyo Biswas, however, took exception to the move. A showcause notice was served on the block land officer.

'The land department's decision is uncalled for. I have asked the officer concerned to explain why he took such a step. The school is top priority.... If the woman refuses to donate her land, we will have to make alternative arrangements,' said Biswas.

Biswas has asked block development officer Swapan Kundu to start a probe.

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