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Principal, staff trade blows on timing

Raiganj, June 7: The principal of Raiganj College and the non-teaching employees came to blows this morning when the office staff were asked to report an hour earlier for the distribution of admission forms. The fisticuffs sent the head of the institution and the secretary of the staff association to hospital.

The ruckus unfolded in front of about 300 boys and girls fresh out of school who had turned up at the college to collect the forms for admission to first year undergraduate courses. They returned home empty-handed. Till late in the evening, it was not clear if the form distribution would start tomorrow.

Principal Shatrughan Singh and the secretary of the non-teaching staff association Subrata Chakrabarty were admitted to Raiganj district hospital.

Chemistry teacher Achyutmohan Roychowdhury said a commotion in principal Shatrughan Singh’s chamber around 11am had alerted him. “I was about to enter the staff room when I heard a commotion in the principal’s chamber. When I tried to find out, some non-teaching staff accosted me. They pushed me and I fell on the corridor,” he said.

“The commotion alerted us too. We saw some non-teaching staff on the corridor and the rest inside the chamber. We entered the room and found the principal sitting on a chair clutching his head. We called a rickshaw and took him to the hospital,” said Debashis Biswas, who teaches economics in the college.

The superintendent of the hospital, Somnath Chatterjee, said Singh had been advised a CT scan of the head while Chakrabarty had been told to get a chest X-ray done. Both reports are being awaited.

The principal and members of Non-teaching Employees’ Association (Raiganj unit) led by its secretary Chakraborty had been at loggerheads since last evening. Singh took charge of the college after former principal Dilip Dey Sarkar resigned from his post after following an assault by alleged Trinamul supporters on the campus.

Krishna Das, a non-teaching staff member, said Singh had called them for a meeting in his chamber yesterday. The 28 non-teaching employees are engaged in office work in the college.

“The principal said he wanted to open seven-eight counters to distribute admission forms. When we requested him to reduce the number of counters, he was rude and ended the meeting,” Das said. The principal then issued a notice that all non-teaching staff should report for duty at 10am today. “We turned up at ten in the morning but decided to sign the duty register at 11am as is the practice. But around 10.30am the principal took the register and marked us absent and took it inside his chamber,” Das said. He said when they entered the principal’s chamber and demanded an explanation from him, he attacked them.

“About a dozen of us entered the chamber wanting to know why the register had been removed. But the principal suddenly jumped up from his chair and began throwing punches at us. Our secretary was particularly targeted. We somehow rescued him and took him to hospital. We have filed an FIR against the principal,” Das said.

From his hospital bed, Chakrabarty said the non-teaching staff would not report for duty till action was taken against the principal. “Ever since he took charge after the attack on the previous principal in January, this person had been acting like an anti-social. Today, when we went to protest his decision to mark us absent he leapt at me and punched me on the face and chest,” Chakrabarty said.

Principal Singh said he was targeted by non-teaching staff members who were not happy with certain steps that he had taken after taking charge for the smooth functioning of the college. “One such measure was to stop the staff from coming late to work. That is why they turned against me. I asked them to come a bit early today for the form distribution. But Subrata Chakrabarty provoked them to attack me in my chamber. Now he is shamming injury,” Singh said.

Constable Kausik Singha, who is in charge of the principal’s security since he took charge, said about 12 to 14 non-teaching staff entered the chamber and assaulted him. “I was pushed out of the room when I tried to stop them,” he said.

North Dinajpur police chief Dipankar Bhattacharya said cases would be started based on the complaints.