Fury over ‘faulty’ teacher postings kills teen

Students of a north Bengal school blocked two new teachers from joining, leading to a clash with police

By KOUSIK SEN in Raiganj
  • Published 21.09.18, 1:43 AM
  • Updated 8.05.19, 5:36 PM
  • 2 mins read
Protesters scamper away as tear gas shells go off during the clash outside the Islampur school on Thursday Telegraph Picture

Students of a school in North Dinajpur’s Islampur on Thursday blocked two new teachers from joining over claims that their postings were “faulty and against requirements”, triggering a clash with police that left a former pupil dead.

The violence followed days of students’ protests demanding Bengali-medium teachers and not those of the Urdu-medium or Sanskrit, like the two teachers, for the co-ed Daribhit High School, 15km from Islampur town.

Rajesh Sarkar, 19, a resident who now studies in an industrial training institute and had joined the students along with other local people, took a bullet, his family and the local Trinamul MLA said. At least 11 others were injured in the clashes.

The police had not commented on the allegation till late on Thursday, saying merely that rubber bullets and tear gas had been used.

The school had sought police deployment to ensure that the new teachers completed joining formalities.

Sources said the new teachers — one is from the Urdu medium while the other takes Sanskrit classes — were recently posted by the state education department.

On Thursday, the protesters blocked the main entrance to the school and refused to budge when the policemen asked them to clear the way. As the cops tried to remove the protesters, some allegedly attacked them with bricks and stones. At least four cops suffered serious injuries, police sources said.

Rajesh was hit on his back and rushed to the Islampur sub-divisional hospital where doctors pronounced him dead. His family and Kanaialal Agarwala, the Trinamul MLA of Islampur, alleged the police had fired bullets. “Blood was oozing from his back. We cannot believe it was caused by a rubber bullet,” Agarwala said.

The BJP has called a 12-hour bandh in North Dinajpur on Friday against the death.

Late on Thursday, senior minister and Trinamul secretary-general Partha Chatterjee said in Calcutta that all aspects of the incident would be probed. He accused the “RSS parivar” of trying to foment trouble and the CPM of trying to “fish in muddied waters”.

“Whether this (death) happened inside the campus….what was a former student doing inside the campus….whether bullets were fired by the cops, who organised this there... all of these have to be conclusively ascertained,” Chatterjee said.

District magistrate Arvind Kumar Meena said he had sought a report on the clash.

The students claimed that there was no one in the school who studied in the Urdu medium and alleged that the police had acted without provocation. “We have not had teachers of subjects like history and life science for many months. That is why we had demanded Bengali-medium teachers for these subjects. Instead, a teacher of Urdu-medium and a Sanskrit teacher were posted. We objected to it and launched the protests,” said Rehana Parveen, a Class IX student.

Asked about the matter, headmaster Abhijit Kundu said the new teachers were sent by the state education department. But Rabindranath Mondal, the district inspector of schools (secondary), disagreed with the claim.

“The department sends teachers not on its own but on the basis of requisitions put in by the schools. In this case, it must be the school that had sought teachers of the Urdu medium and Sanskrit from us,” Mondal said.

Told about claims that there was no Urdu medium student, Mondal said: “The number of such students may have come down. But according to official records, it is a bilingual school with both Bengali and Urdu mediums.”