The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Strife shadow on empty-class cry
- Twin strike calls throw schools in a fix


Threat: The Trinamul Congress has warned of a showdown with police in central Calcutta on Monday. “We expect over 3,000 students to gather in front of Calcutta University,” said Trinamul students’ wing president Baishwanar Chatterjee on Sunday. Target: The protesters will try to march to Writers’ Buildings to demand the immediate arrest of state health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra for “criminal negligence”.

Protest point: “The govt has no business punishing four innocent interns.”

Future tense: The rally worries do not end there for the cops. On Thursday, CPM-controlled fronts, like the Indian Medical Association (Bengal branch) and the Association of Health Service Doctors, have called a joint rally from Nilratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital to Rani Rashmoni Avenue.

Demand: Withdrawal of the government suspension order and an improvement in the healthcare system, echoed by a Medical Service Centre meet in front of Medical College and Hospital’s emergency building on Sunday.

Principals of schools across the city are in a fix following the students’ strike called by the Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad and the All-India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO) on Monday. The point of protest: the government’s decision to punish six junior doctors of RG Kar Medical College and Hospital.

AIDSO has threatened to keep all students — except those appearing for examinations — away from class in both schools and colleges in the city and its suburbs. But a bigger roadblock to reaching schools could be posed by Mamata Banerjee’s students’ wing on Monday afternoon (see box).

Though the Students’ Federation of India predicted on Sunday that the Opposition-sponsored students’ strike would end in a whimper on Monday, the authorities of most of the schools were unsure about what course to take on Monday.

The managements of most schools were left wondering on Sunday about the possible disruption and the ripple effect of Trinamul’s “militant agitation”. But having got the news of the students’ strike no earlier than Saturday, they were unable to take a decision to officially shut down for a day and so left it to the parents.

Patha Bhavan Junior High School principal Pradipta Kanungo urged guardians to be “extremely careful” on Monday. “We came to know about the twin strike-calls only on Saturday and, Sunday being a holiday, could not declare a holiday officially,” she said.

“But, since we are dealing with small children, we have asked parents to check the situation on the streets before deciding whether to send their children to school,” she added.

Secretary of the Anglo-Indian School Teachers’ Association Dilip Bhattacharya, too, felt that the decision should be left to the parents.

Schools would remain open on Monday but a final decision on whether to give over early, in case of low attendance, could not be taken till Monday morning, added Bhattacharya.

Echoing similar confusion, member of the managing committee of South Point School K. Damani said the institution would remain open on Monday. “But the discretion to send children to school remains with the guardians,” he added.

Principals of some schools were still in the dark on Sunday evening about their managing committees’ decision on the strike-call. “I do not know what is going to happen on Monday. The school management hasn’t conveyed to me its decision as yet,” was what Mukta Nain, principal of Birla High School, had to say.

Malini Bhagat, junior school principal of Mahadevi Birla Girl’s High School, said that her school would remain open, but there were a lot of “ifs and buts” about how the day would pass.

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