| Graves and memorials at Don Bosco Palin. Picture by Eastern Projections |
Itanagar/Guwahati, March 4: The flowers on the graves have wilted but the memories are still as strong.
As the easterlies howl across the slopes of the hills overlooking the small town of Palin in Arunachal Pradesh’s Kurung Kumey district, parents of 10 children charred to death on a fa-teful night in February can, perhaps, still hear the panic-stricken cries of their boys and girls.
After all, six of the children are yet to find their final resting place, their remains buried on the premises of the very school — Don Bosco — where they had studied not so long ago.
Angry parents had buried six of the 10 children — charred to death in their sleep at their private hostel on February 10 — on the school campus. The memorials of three other students were also erected in the same place.
Nearly a month after the tragic accident in the sleepy town, the authorities are said to have inched closer to convincing parents to exhume the bodies and bury them elsewhere, a condition set by the school authorities to reopen the school.
Sources in the Kurung Kumey administration said parents have put “certain conditions” for relocating the graves after exhuming the bodies for burial elsewhere.
“After all, the school cannot be the final resting place of these children,” a district administration official said over phone.
The conditions laid down by the parents include building a proper hostel run by the school, a fire brigade station at Palin and renaming of the classes after the victims.
The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) also demanded today that the Don Bosco School be reopened without further delay.
The apex students’ organisation urged the high level committees — one headed by education minister Bosiram Siram and another by deputy commissioner Bidol Tayeng — to ensure that Don Bosco School reopens soon.
“The AAPSU urges both high-level committees constituted by the state government following the Palin fire mishap to settle the uneasy atmosphere prevailing there and initiate immediate steps for reopening of the school in view of the approaching exams and the hardships faced by students of the school,” AAPSU president Takam Tatung said.
He also termed the Palin tragedy a sad story of “commercialisation of education”.
The assistant deputy commissioner of Kurung Kumey, Chukhu Takar, said the administration was making all efforts to resolve the matter.
“The district administration, the members of two high-level committees are making all efforts to convince the parents to remove the burials from the school campus. The parents have laid down some conditions before us for removal of graves and we are considering the matter,” Takar said.
The state government had earlier assured the parents of erecting a memorial at the exact location where the private hostel once stood.
Father Jose Karippai, the principal of the school, who is camping at Don Bosco School campus in Itanagar, had earlier said “unless the graves and memorials are removed from the school premises, we cannot think of reopening the institution”.