Regular-article-logo Wednesday, 07 June 2023

Oops! Belated realisation ‘hits’ school

Kharmadanga, where the VHP project is coming up, falls in the Banhat gram panchayat, which is run by the Trinamul Congress

Snehamoy Chakraborty Rampurhat Published 23.12.18, 07:24 PM
The two-storey building at Kharmadanga, Birbhum

The two-storey building at Kharmadanga, Birbhum Telegraph picture

Few, certainly not the panchayat that cleared the plan, paid undue attention when a building started coming up at a brisk pace in a tribal village in Birbhum.

Spread over an acre in Kharmadanga, the building will house a residential school, it will have a goshala (cow shelter) and a prayer hall.… So went the chatter in the village.


Two months ago, the penny dropped: the school is the Vishva Hindu Parishad’s largest project to date in Bengal.

The VHP is within its rights to build and run a school anywhere in India. But little prevents an unfriendly administration from bunging a spanner in the works if it realises that such a project is certain to earn the wrath of the party in power.

Kharmadanga, where the VHP project is coming up, falls in the Banhat gram panchayat, which is run by the Trinamul Congress.

Eight months ago, the Trinamul-controlled panchayat cleared the building’s plan — an unusual occurrence, given the adverse reaction that the Sangh parivar usually evokes in the state government.

Sources said the panchayat had no clue about the VHP’s association with the school until two months ago. Probably because the project is being implemented under the aegis of a trust.

Once realisation dawned, the attitude has apparently changed and amends are being made.

Dilip Jhawar, the seva pramukh of the VHP’s Bengal unit, said the ruling party was denying power connection to the building.

“There was no problem till two months ago. We got our plan for the building sanctioned easily. The harassment started when Trinamul found out that the project belonged to the VHP. We had deposited money for power connection five months ago and electric posts have been erected near the building. But we are yet to get the connection. We suspect the ruling establishment is behind the delay. What we are doing is nothing illegal,” Jhawar told The Telegraph.

The VHP said the school would be its largest establishment in Bengal. “The school is a Rs 2-crore project. We run three residential schools in Bengal, which were set up at least 25 years ago. But the new project is the largest in Bengal as we plan to set up a school, prayer hall and a goshala,” said Jhawar.

Kharmadanga is around 70km from Santiniketan and has been a known base of the VHP for the past few decades. In 2015, senior VHP leaders of the country had held a religious programme at the village where about 100 Christian tribal families were allegedly converted. The village is 7km from the Jharkhand border.

Subhomoy Sarkar, divisional manager of the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited in Rampurhat, said he was not aware of the matter. “If the organisation concerned contacts us, we will look into the matter,” said Sarkar.

But Trinamul leaders said they would oppose it politically and administratively.

“The building plan was sanctioned but the gram panchayat was not informed of the purpose. We have recently come to know about such a venture. We will not allow activities by any organisation which can affect communal harmony in our area. We will oppose it politically and administratively,” said Asish Banerjee, state agriculture minister and Trinamul’s Rampurhat MLA.

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