The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shh... no class, kirtan on
- School shut for a week of singing forced out of break

Krishnagar, Dec. 5: When the quality of primary education in the state has already raised eyebrows, including Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's, students of a school in Nadia have been attending it for days only to listen to kirtan, have khichuri and go home.

The headmaster of Muktarpur Primary School in Karimpur, 200 km from Calcutta, has closed it down for the time being and allowed local villagers to hold devotional songs non-stop (akhand kirtan) for a week. Loudspeakers had been blaring on the campus since Thursday.

The administration woke up today and ordered the singers out of the compound. The headmaster was told to resume classes immediately.

An angry district primary school council chairman, Bibhash Biswas, said he has asked a sub-inspector of schools to conduct a probe.

Muktarpur Primary School has about 150 students. Biswas said: 'We don't even close the school for the pulse polio programme. Strong action will be taken against the headmaster if he is found guilty,' said Biswas. The school head, Prabhat Biswas, might face demotion or transfer.

District magistrate Rajesh Pandey has sought a report from the BDO.

The headmaster claimed that he had sent a school clerk to the block development office and the primary school council seeking permission for the kirtan. 'He told me that both offices had given their nod verbally,' Biswas said.

This was the 10th year of the kirtan in the school. All these years, it remained closed this time of the year but the parents did not dare to complain.

BDO Swapan Kundu and Biswas denied that their offices had given any such permission. Students' guardians had lodged a complaint with them.

'We simply couldn't fathom what was going on. A school is closed to make way for singing.... What nonsense,' said Bankim Ghosh, father of Kaushik, a student of Class IV.

The guardians also complained that the khichuri for the kirtan listeners was being cooked with rice meant for the children's mid-day meals.

Kundu said: 'I told them to switch off the microphones and sing softly so that classes are not hampered. Normal classes will be held from tomorrow.' He would inquire into the alleged misuse of foodgrain.

The headmaster said some villagers approached him a few days ago and sought to hold the weeklong session in the school. 'Thursday, a group of 100 singers virtually took over the compound,' he added.

With the BDO in action today, they left without any resistance.

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