Darjeeling, Aug. 11: Many hill schools, which had stocked rations for almost a month and decided to wait and watch before sending their borders home, have started packing the students off.
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha sources said school students leaving the hills were allowed to travel to Siliguri.
Even after the Morcha announced the indefinite strike, St. Joseph’s School (North Point), Darjeeling, decided to keep 415 of the 520 boarders back.
The school had said it had enough stock of rations to last a month. Only boarders from in and around the Darjeeling hills, Sikkim and other places in north Bengal were told to go home.
Sources said the decision to send all the boarders home was taken after the Morcha hardened its stance in the face of state government pressure to lift the strike.
“Given the present uncertainty and indications given by the Morcha leadership, we have decided to send the boarders home. We now have only 105 boarders, of them 42 are from Thailand and the others are mostly from the north-eastern states,” said Father Santey Mathew, the rector of St. Joseph’s School. Two Indonesian students and one from Canada are in the hostels.
“We had a student from Germany and one from Spain. They have left,” said Father Mathew.
Most of the boarders left for Siliguri early this morning in vehicles arranged by the school. The students were accompanied by teachers.
“We are looking at sending the rest of the students home probably on August 15,” said Father Mathew.
The Morcha has said the strike will be relaxed on Independence Day.
In Kurseong’s Himali Boarding School, 380 of the 400 boarders left today. The remaining 20 students are from Thailand.
“There is uncertainty now and we thought it would be best to send the boarders home. We only have 20 Thai students staying with us now. We are also looking for ways to send them home either on the eve of Independence Day or the next day,” said Robindra Subba, director of the school.
Many heads of schools spoke on similar lines.
“The parents are also constantly worried so we are letting them go home. We have asked the students to return once there is peace in the area,” said the head of an educational institution, who did not want to be named.
There are 13 Anglo-Indian schools in the hills with each institution having 300 to 500 boarders. Many of the 32 non-Anglo Indian ICSE schools also have boarders, mostly from Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.