Schools inspector Riazul Islam after he was spat upon; (below) teacher Ranjan Sil Sharma (left) spitting at the inspector in Siliguri on Monday. Pictures by Kundan Yolmo
Siliguri, June 8: Days lesson from a schoolteacher to Bengals children: if you disagree with someone, spit on his face.
Ranjan Sil Sharma, secretary of a teachers association, puckered his mouth and squirted betel juice into the face of the district inspector of schools, Siliguri, today. Once, twice, thrice. In full view of journalists and TV camera crews.
The man taught the immediate lesson, Riazul Islam, had refused to endorse the associations demands relating to transfers and promotions.
The attack, which left Islams face spattered with tiny red splotches, took place at the schools inspectors office. It came a day before the Centre, which has marked education down as a key engine for the countrys progress, attempts to clear 390 higher education institutions.
Sil Sharma, secretary of the Trinamul Congress-backed Bengal Primary School Teachers Association, is Trinamul councillor in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation. He also teaches students through Class I to Class IV —almost all the subjects taught in these classes, he said — at the Netaji Government-Sponsored Free Primary School in Siliguris Subhaspalli.
Sil Sharma had led a team of 20 association members to Islams office around 12.30pm with a list of demands. When the official refused to put his initials on the list, an angry exchange broke out that ended 20 minutes later with Sil Sharmas heroics. The teachers walked out around 1pm.
Days lesson No. 2: when caught red-handed, keep denying.
Not one among us who met the district inspector did any such thing, Sil Sharma said.
None of us misbehaved. He (Islam) is levelling false allegations, he insisted even after reporters told him they were there and saw him spit. The media had been tipped off by Sil Sharma about a possible showdown at Islams office.
The schools inspector did not get up from his seat till the teachers had left. He then rang up his seniors to complain about the atrocities committed by people engaged in a noble profession.
Such behaviour is not expected from teachers. They should face severe action. You all are witness, he told the reporters.
Islam has filed a police complaint against Sil Sharma and two other association members, Shikha Chatterjee and Anukul Dutta.
School education joint secretary Sukumar Mahapatra said Sil Sharma could be punished but we must find out if he is guilty and if there was provocation. He said the maximum punishment could be suspension, whose duration would depend on the gravity of the crime.
The Trinamul district chief said: I have asked two senior district leaders to find out about the incident and submit a report to me. Being a responsible political party, we shall definitely take steps against anyone found guilty.
The association, though backed by Trinamul, is not affiliated to it. Most of its senior officials, however, are Trinamul members.
Biswajit Bhowmik, chairman of the district primary council, a government body that regulates appointments in primary schools, called a news conference to condemn Sil Sharmas act.
This is absolutely unacceptable coming from teachers. We have received a complaint from the district inspector and will forward it to higher authorities. The charges are very serious, he said, adding that Islam told him the teachers had used filthy language.