Chowk Bazar during the 12-hour bandh in Darjeeling on Sunday. Picture by Suman Tamang
Darjeeling, Sept. 29: Police in Darjeeling today warned heads of schools that they would be held responsible if children in uniforms were seen at protest meetings.
The police’s warning came a day after several boys, clad in blue school uniforms and carrying school bags, were seen gathered outside the Darjeeling police station where residents were protesting the alleged molestation of a schoolgirl by a RAF constable on Saturday morning.
Since last night, 100 people have been arrested for clashing with the police over the molestation of a schoolgirl by a RAF jawan yesterday.
The police today summoned heads of a few hill institutions to the Darjeeling Sadar police station and told them that they could not shirk responsibility of the action of students if they appear in school uniform at gheraos and protests.
Jawed Shamim, IG (special), told the school heads today: “If we find there is any kind of complicity of any of them (schools) in sending students in school uniforms here (at the Darjeeling Sadar police station gherao), we will see what we can do.”
He added: “The future of the students is at stake and they cannot evade responsibilities. If a student is arrested, he will never get a job, which will be very sad.”
Shamim added: “If anything would have happened to the students at a place where hoodlums were present, who would take the responsibility? Someone has to take responsibility because you are sending them from school.”
A school head said after the discussion with Shamim that institutions had been shut immediately after yesterday’s incident and the violence that followed.
“Some people might have taken the students for the demonstration. We always ensure that students are not sent from schools for such acts,” the school principal said.
Yesterday, residents of Darjeeling threw stones at the police after news spread that a girl returning from school had been grabbed by a RAF jawan at Ghoombhanjyang, about 11km from Darjeeling.
Arun Pramanik, the 26-year-old RAF constable was arrested.
The student, who was returning home around 9.30am, was allegedly molested by the jawan who first held her hand, then chased her when she freed herself from his grasp.
The girl had been absent from school on Friday and was not aware that her school was shut on Saturday. She was returning home after coming to know that there would be no class.
A huge crowd gathered outside the Darjeeling police station. Seen standing near police barricades were several students in uniforms.
The police said some of the demonstrators deflated tyres of a police van and also tried to torch a police vehicle, following which the police resorted to lathicharge.
After the lathicharge, angry residents pelted the cops with stones throughout the evening.
A North Bengal State Transport Corporation bus was also set on fire at the Darjeeling Motor Stand.
Shamim said: “We have arrested 100 people last night.”
He said the police were also trying to identity people who allegedly spread rumours yesterday.
“Yesterday’s incident was fanned by rumours. We are trying to find out who spread these rumours,” he said.