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Principal held over ‘extra fee’

Bongaigaon, Feb. 8: The principal in-charge of Sidalsati HS School here was arrested today for allegedly collecting “extra fees” from students for buying an additional plot of land for the school.

Guardians alleged that Hitesh Chandra Barman had been collecting Rs 500 from students of Classes IX and X and Rs 1,000 from those of Classes XI and XII to buy a plot adjacent to the school. They said nearly 655 students had paid up in the last two months.

On February 6, Bongaigaon deputy commissioner Shankar Prasad Nandi called Barman to his office through the Bongaigaon inspector of schools, Khabiruddin Ahmed, and took his statement. Later, Ahmed visited the school, 16km from here, and checked school documents before filing an FIR against Barman.

“According to the complaint lodged under Section 409 of IPC and Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, police arrested Barman today. He was produced in a special court in Guwahati,” a police officer said.

The school management refused to comment. Committee president Chakreswar Ray said, “I won’t comment on this matter.” Sources said the committee had resolved to collect “extra money” from students for buying an extra plot of land for the school, which was established in 1965 and provincialised last year.

Guardians said students of Classes IX and XI had paid the amount while paying admission fees in January, while Classes X and XII paid it before taking their admit cards. Abdul Salam, 40, a resident of No. 2 Jaraguri paid Rs 500 for his son, a Class X student. “The principal told me to pay the amount,” he said.

Bipul Fauzdar, 50, who is suffering from a kidney disorder, paid Rs 500 for his daughter, a Class IX student, along with the admission fee of Rs 550. “I have already mortgaged my property to repay the loan taken for my treatment. So, I had to borrow Rs 1,000 from a self-help group on 10 per cent interest for paying the fees.”

Barman’s younger brother, Dhaneswar, said, “My brother is innocent. He did everything for public welfare.”