Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Sunday urged “right-thinking people” to join hands against the trend of gheraoing teachers to press for promotion of failed students.
A Santoshpur school and later several institutions across the state had recently been rocked by such protests.
Chatterjee, an alumnus of the erstwhile Presidency College, made the plea against the disturbing trend while being felicitated on the occasion of Presidency University’s foundation day on Sunday. He had graduated in economics from the college in 1949.
“Intolerance has crept into education. Otherwise how can students gherao teachers for hours over demands of promotion despite failing to pass examinations. All right-thinking people should stand up against this trend. We can criticise, but at the same time we must change our mindset,” Chatterjee said after being conferred the Atul Chandra Gupta Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Chatterjee might have been referring to the recent trrend of gherao in schools, but his alma mater has witnessed many disruptive demonstrations in the past few years.
The spate of gherao at schools started at Santoshpur Rishi Aurobindo Balika Vidyapeeth, where students who had failed the Higher Secondary qualifying exam kept headmistress Sreemati Ghosh and 13 other teachers under siege for 22 hours, from the afternoon of December 17, demanding that they be declared passed.
The HS council’s initial order to the school to hold a retest, which had to be withdrawn following a storm of protest, helped spread the gherao to several schools.
The situation had come to such a pass that governor M.K. Narayan had summoned HS council president Muktinath Chatterjee and asked him to firmly deal with such situations.
Later, Chatterjee told reporters: “In our time we could not think of gheraoing teachers in schools over demands of automatic promotion. Now students go to the extent of not letting teachers drink water unless their demands are met. There has been decline of values.”