|A man puts up posters against headmistress Sreemati Ghosh on the gate of Santoshpur Rishi Aurobindo Balika Vidyapeeth on Wednesday afternoon. (Above) Two teachers and a student enter the school through a back gate in the morning as the main gate was closed for most of the day. (Bishwarup Dutta)
What had started as a student protest at Santoshpur Rishi Aurobindo Balika Vidyapeeth bared its true colours on Wednesday with Trinamul workers holding a meeting in front of the institution and demanding the ouster of the headmistress.
A group calling itself Purba Jadavpur Nagarik Mancha pasted posters, with the Trinamul colours at the bottom, on the school gate, branding headmistress Sreemati Ghosh “corrupt” and “inefficient” and demanding her resignation or dismissal.
A meeting outside the school in the evening saw the same abuses and demands being aired from a dais draped in chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s favourite white and blue.
The speakers at the meeting held the headmistress responsible for the poor results — 29 students had failed to clear the HS selection test — and sought the education minister’s intervention.
Metro had on Tuesday reported how local Trinamul leaders were trying to get a toehold in the school’s managing committee and backed the students who had held the headmistress and 13 of her colleagues hostage for 22 hours from Monday afternoon.
Shankudeb Panda, the general secretary of the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad, had met the students and guardians outside the school on Tuesday morning, when the siege was under way. The demands in the posters were an echo of what several leaders of the Trinamul student wing had voiced on Tuesday.
“We demand that an administrator be immediately appointed for the school as it does not have an elected managing committee. The headmistress has included people of her choice in the committee,” a leader of the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad said on Wednesday.
A stone’s throw from the school, under Sukanta Setu, is a Trinamul office. Several residents Metro spoke to identified the men behind the meeting and the posters as Trinamul faces.
The preparations for the evening meeting started about 4pm. A youth dressed in a black shirt and green trousers started putting up the posters on the school’s main gate.
Some of the posters in Bengali read: “Why the threat to pass students for Rs 200? The useless headmistress has to answer”; “May the unholy entente between the headmistress and outsiders be destroyed”; “Why no election to the school managing committee for 28 years? Headmistress must answer”; “Why the corruption with school development funds? Headmistress Sreemati Ghosh has to answer”; “Why the attempt to create divisions within the students”; “Appeal to education minister to immediately dismiss this corrupt and useless headmistress”.
Just beside the main gate a small podium was built from where the speakers vented out their ire at Ghosh. A halogen lamp was fixed on the guard-rail of Sukanta Setu, running above, to light up the meeting venue.
One speaker at the meeting drew a parallel between the school and the state of affairs depicted in Satyajit Ray’s film Hirak Rajar Deshe. “In the film, we saw how people were being brainwashed on order from the king. In this school, students are being similarly brainwashed. They are not taught anything,” said Nirmalya Das.
About an before the speakers started abusing the headmistress, she had left the school.
“What was being feared till Tuesday has turned into reality,” she murmured after reading the posters. “I am ready to leave this school if they want but I have never brought politics into it. You can ask any of the teachers,” she said.
The issue that rocked the Santoshpur school shook up a Sinthee institution on Wednesday.
Twenty-nine Class XII students at Kasturba Kanya Vidyapeeth, who had failed in the HS selection test, locked their teachers in a room for more than two hours, demanding that they be declared passed.
According to the school authorities, the girls had failed to score the cut-off mark — 30 per cent — in a single subject. Following repeated pleas from the parents and students, the authorities agreed to hold a re-test for the failed students.
“But the students refused to sit for the re-test and demanded that we modify the original result,” said teacher-in-charge Mita Mukherjee.
Sensing trouble, Mukherjee asked the students to leave the school. They did so but locked the main gate. Police rescued the 22 teachers around 1pm.