School clash claims 1 more

Bullet riddle stays in Islampur deaths; questions rise over ‘faulty’ teacher postings

By Kousik Sen in Raiganj
  • Published 22.09.18, 1:38 AM
  • Updated 8.05.19, 4:12 PM
  • 2 mins read
A torched two-wheeler on the premises of Daribhit High School on Friday. Kousik Sen

Thursday’s clashes between students and police at a school in North Dinajpur’s Islampur claimed another life and left a key question unanswered over 24 hours later: who fired the bullets that killed the two youths.

The relatives of Tapash Burman, 23, who died in hospital on Friday, alleged police firing, like those of Rajesh Sarkar, 19, who had succumbed to his injuries on Thursday. Both were former students of Daribhit High School.

The police have denied firing at protesters — who included students and locals, including former-pupils — who were railing against faulty “postings” of two new teachers at the co-ed school 15km from Islampur town. The teachers sent were of Urdu medium and Sanskrit, while the students said they needed Bangla medium teachers.

“A teacher fell ill. The police were trying to take him out of the school for treatment when some people, who had mingled with the students, attacked us. They were carrying firearms and bombs. Parimal Adhikari, a constable, suffered bullet injuries and 14 policemen were injured. Even then, the police not use lethal weapons,” Sumit Kumar, the district police chief, said on Friday.

The officer asserted that the police did not “fire live bullets”. “We are trying to find out who fired the bullets and how they were hit,” Kumar said, adding seven persons, including “some BJP supporters”, have been detained.

But Mou, Rajesh’s sister, blamed the police. “My brother had come to take me away on a bike. We were leaving the place when a policeman, whose face was covered, tried to block us. He did not speak a word and fired at my brother. My brother collapsed on the spot,” said Mou.

Tapash’s brother Rajesh alleged that some policemen had fired. “My brother was in his shop and was hit by a bullet,” said Rajesh. The second question was why was Urdu medium and Sanskrit teachers were sent when, as the students said, they needed Bangla medium teachers.

The school authorities claimed they had informed the district inspector of schools, Rabindranath Mondal, in writing on September 18 that the Sanskrit and Urdu teachers should not be sent. The protesters had blocked the duo from joining the school on Thursday, triggering the violence. Mondal has been suspended.

“We mentioned it categorically we do not need these teachers. Even then, he sent them, which led to the incident,” said a source. Minister Partha Chatterjee said Mondal had “acted on his own”. On Friday, the BJP observed a 12-hour strike in North Dinajpur.