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Bengalis take to streets in Bhagalpur - Neglect leads to protests

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GAUTAM SARKAR   |   Bhagalpur   |   Published 22.08.05, 12:00 AM

Bhagalpur, Aug. 22: Bengalis, now in a hopeless minority in this ancient silk town, today hit the roads to protest against indifference and interference by public servants.

They had hit the street 17 years ago in 1988 too following the abduction of a young girl from the community by people close to the then chief minister, Bhagwat Jha Azad.

Today, they once again took out a procession under the aegis of Bihar Bengali Association (BBA) to protest the neglect of a Bengali medium school, nearly 150 years old.

Durga Charan High School, established in 1860, boasts of celebrated novelist Sarat Chandra as one of its students. Said to be the only Bengali medium school in Bihar today, the school is managed by the Bengali Minority Education Society, a registered body.

The secretary of the managing committee, Bilas Kumar Bagchi, explained that the district education office has been persistently refusing to either follow the rules or acknowledge the managing committee.

The department, he alleged, had also flouted directions from the high court. Under the rules, the committee is entitled to appoint teachers even though their salary is paid by the government.

But though the Patna high court had directed the DEO (district education superintendent) to make salary payments in consultation with the managing committee, he said, the department continues to make the payments at its own whims and fancy.

Although in 1989 the high court had initiated contempt proceedings against the then DEO and instructions given by the deputy chairman of the state minority commission, nothing appear to have had any impact on the department.

The committee has filed a petition in the local court but nothing has come of it because the police failed to file the chargesheet.

The association is now planning to file a writ in the high court. The department was encouraging a section of the teachers to bypass the managing committee and set up their own rules, complains the president of the local unit of the BBA, Lohit Kumar Ghosh.

More than 50,000 Bengalis have migrated from Bhagalpur in the last three decades, says Debashis Banerjee, a ward councillor in the Bhagalpur municipal corporation. The Bengali population in Bhagalpur today is just about 4,000-5,000, he said.

The memorandum submitted to the district magistrate seeks immediate intervention of the government to safeguard the lives and property of community members. Criminal elements had tried to kill Roma Das when she resisted their attempt to grab property of some Bengalis here.

Debjyoti Mukherjee?s house and land were grabbed by some influential people while Krishna Bhowmik, present in the procession, cried, ?I was beaten up and the goons tried to outrage my modesty when I refused to hand over my property.?

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