The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Students suffer in schools besieged

Children in uniform huddled together near the school gate, parents trying frantically to get to schools under siege, parents and kids walking home with their hands raised and fear writ large on their faces — a busy school zone of Calcutta resembled a war zone on Friday with rioters on the rampage for hours.

Metro visited some of the worst-hit schools...

St James: Principal T.H. Ireland said the school gave over at noon. “The boys from the junior section were really scared,” said Yousuf Ali, of Class XII.

Frank Anthony: The inter-school basketball tournament had to be called off. The principal, I.T. Meyers, was seated at the gate, allowing children to leave only with their parents. “My carpool hasn’t arrived. It’s getting late and my mobile phone is not working. They must be very worried at home,” said Rishav Khemka of Class XI .

Convent of Our Lady of Providence: Sister Rosily said she was told at 11am by police to close the school gate. The girls were allowed to leave for home with their guardians from noon.

St Augustine’s: Debashmit Saha, a student of Class IX, could not reach his school as no buses were plying in the Moulali-Ripon Street zone and there were bottles and bricks flying around. He got caught in the chaos and could only head back home after 5pm.

Mahadevi Birla for Girls: The school gates were shut shortly after noon. Parents frantically calling up the school were told to come and collect their wards. Schoolbuses could not leave the campus till 5pm.

Don Bosco: Nikunj Bhaia and his brother Varun walked down from their Park Circus school to their Lord Sinha Road home. “We waited for quite some time and then started walking. We saw lots of cars lying abandoned out of fear of mob fury,” they said.

Calcutta Boys: After sitting for their exams, Karan Paul and Karan Sharma walked from SN Banerjee Road to the Moulali crossing and then chanced upon a St James schoolbus, which dropped them close to home. “The school might be closed tomorrow,” they said.

Pratt Memorial: Children were not allowed to leave school for hours. Some pool cars were hit by bottles hurled by a mob. Meghna Dey of Class IX said: “I was very scared and so I called my father to take me back home”.

Ranjit Sen, father of Ronita (Class X) had made his way through the riots. “The school is in the middle of the trouble zone. I wonder how we will get out,” he shuddered.

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