Students strike at a ceiling fan at Madhab Das’s house. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
Alipurduar, June 12: A high school in Falakata turned into a war zone today with students going on the rampage to protest against the institution’s alleged inaction when a Class XII boy was beaten up by relatives of a girl he had befriended. The boy’s family said he was given electric shocks with an exposed wire.
The group of more than 800 students ransacked the school office and set fire to the headmaster’s motorcycle. The houses of the girl, a student of Class IX, and her relatives were also not spared.
Yesterday, the family members of the girl pounced on the boy at lunch break when he strolled out of Nathuni High School in Khagenhat, 60km from here, and dragged him to their house and beat him up. He was allegedly given electric shocks with an exposed wire. The boy was found lying injured on the road and was taken by some guardians waiting outside the institution to the school office.
“The headmaster took no initiative to take the stricken boy to a hospital even though he was bleeding and had burns on his body. They sent him home on a rickshaw,” said Nandalal Singh, one of the guardians. The family members of the boy took him to the Dhupguri rural hospital from where he was referred to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri.
Netai Das said his classmate had “just befriended” the girl. “But yesterday, he told us that the girl had told him not to talk to her anymore.”
Violence broke out in phases this morning when the students went to headmaster Balaram Sarkar, demanding action against the girl’s father, Mahadeb Das and uncles, Madhab and Bhaskar. Sarkar told them that as the incident had taken place outside the school campus, he could do nothing.
At this, the students swooped down on the school office, hurling furniture and setting Sarkar’s motorcycle on fire. They then ransacked the Das residence, barely a hundred metres from the school. With teachers cowering inside the staffroom, the students repeatedly attacked a shop belonging to Mahadeb in the afternoon. The Dases had by then fled from the area.
The guardians have filed an FIR against the headmaster and the girls’ family with the Falakata police station. The school, too, has filed a complaint against the Dases.
Later in the day, members of the school managing committee sat with the students and tried to placate them. “The incident is unfortunate. The students are demanding the suspension of the headmaster, the arrest of the girl’s family in 24 hours and want the school to bear the expenses of the boy’s treatment,” said Sunil Roy, a member of the committee. He added that the committee would take strong action against Sarkar.
Classes were not held today. Neither will they be held tomorrow as the managing committee has lined up another round of meeting with the students. “We have lodged an FIR against the family members of the girl,” said Roy.
S.R. Misra, the additional superintendent of police of Alipurduar, said: “Had the school informed us earlier, the situation would have become normal earlier.”
The headmaster said when the injured boy was brought to the school, he was given once-over by the person in charge of the school dispensary. “The para-teacher in charge of the dispensary said he was all right and so I sent him home,” said Sarkar.
Contacted over the phone at the medical college, Paritosh Kirtania said his son returned home at 3pm yesterday in a very bad shape. “We brought him to Siliguri where the doctors have declared that his condition was serious and that he might require surgery. A CT scan has to be done first,” Kirtania said.