An SFI activist wipes a life-size portrait of Sudipto Gupta at the start of a procession from Garia to Netaji Nagar on Thursday afternoon to protest his death in police custody. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Trinamul intervention and a heavy police presence ensured that the school where SFI leader Sudipto Gupta had studied from classes V to XII was open during Thursday’s general strike to protest his death in police custody.
All other schools and colleges in the Tollygunge-Dhakuria-Garia belt were shut for the day but not Jadavpur NK Pal Adarsha Sikshayatan on Jheel Road, from where Sudipto had passed the Higher Secondary examination in 2008.
The school held classes as usual despite only 250 students out of the 1,384 on its rolls turning up on Thursday.
The official line was that classes were held because the school was “against” any strike. But sources in the institution said the Trinamul-run governing body had instructed the headmaster and all teachers to hold classes on Thursday, irrespective of the number of students present.
“One of the senior governing body members called me up on Wednesday evening and asked me to make sure that classes were held. A few minutes later, there was a call from Garfa police station. I was told there would be enough police protection to ensure classes weren’t disrupted,” headmaster Shyamal Kumar Mishra said.
The Left Front had called the 12-hour general strike in Tollygunge, Dhakuria and Garia to demand a judicial inquiry into Sudipto’s death, exempting transport and promising not to force any establishment to down shutters. Left-affiliated student unions had separately declared a state-wide school and college shutdown on the same issue.
Trinamul leaders had said on Wednesday that the party wouldn’t make any attempt to foil the strike. Trinamul Chhatra Parishad president Shankudeb Panda issued a statement requesting members of his organisation to refrain from “actively opposing” the strike.
While Trinamul workers did not force any other school or college to stay open, sources in the party admitted that Sudipto’s alma mater was the exception. “Had we allowed the strike to affect the school from which Sudipto passed out in 2008, it would have meant conceding ground to the Left,” a source said.
Nearby schools such as Jadavpur Vidyapeeth and Jodhpur Park Boys’ didn’t open but NK Pal Adarsha Sikshayatan was alive, if not bustling, till classes gave over. Metro visited the school around noon and found two policemen at the gate and a group of students on the corridor. A teacher appeared soon after and herded the students back into the classroom.
“We keep our school open during all bandh days. That is the way we work,” headmaster Mishra said.
But guardians waiting for their wards outside the school said the institution was closed during the February 20 strike called by the Left-backed central trade unions.
Injured SFI activist Joseph Azam Hossain’s right arm needn’t be amputated, doctors at CMRI have confirmed.