EDUCATION & ENETHICAL POLITICS: Poll spurs clash outside campus – Two injured by whizzing bullets – teach your teachers well ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Balurghat, Oct. 4: The surroundings of a high school in Gangarampur turned a battlefield last night as supporters of the Trinamul Congress and the CPM clashed with improvised firearms, bombs, sticks and stones over elections to the institution’s managing committee.
Nine persons were injured, two of them by bullets. The inspector in charge of Gangarampur police station is among the injured. He was hit by a flying stone on the leg.
Fourteen people have been arrested in connection with the incident and four improvised firearms seized from the spot. Extra policemen have been posted in the area since last night as tension continues to prevail in Thengapara. No classes were held at Thengapara High School, 60km from here, today.
Inspector Biswanath Haldar was released last night after a first aid administered at the Gangarampur subdivisional hospital.
Doctors at the hospital said two persons among those treated suffered bullet injuries. A bullet had whizzed past the head of Paresh Basak, and another past Paritosh Mondol’s left arm. Both Basak and Mondal are Trinamul members.
The only CPM member injured was the former deputy pradhan of the Belabari I gram panchayat, Putul Kumar Majumdar, who had a fractured jaw and was referred to the Malda district hospital this morning.
Tension was high at the school since yesterday as 18 candidates were vying for places in the six-member managing committee. According to sources in the institution, of the 2,000 voters, 1,800 cast their ballots. One guardian of one student enrolled in the school was counted as one voter.
The voting passed off peacefully and ended at 4pm. However, tension began to mount from 6.30pm, when the counting started. Police said in the first two rounds of counting, Trinamul candidates won. When the CPM started winning from the fourth round, Trinamul alleged that it had been cheated during the counting. “We had been winning and then suddenly we were left behind. The CPM cheated us during counting,” said local Trinamul leader Mohiruddin Mondal.
The police said the clash broke out around 10pm, when the CPM took out a victory procession. Trinamul supporters protested the procession and the clash started with a war of words.
Half an hour later, a force led by inspector Haldar arrived. But the 20-member team could do little to control the nearly 200-strong mob. At 11pm, a larger police force, including the personnel of the Rapid Action Force, arrived at the spot led by the subdivisional police officer of Gangarampur Kazi Samsuddin Zaman.
“We were attacked by the mob and stones were thrown injuring our inspector-in-charge. It was dark but we managed to chase the mob away before midnight,” said a senior officer of the Gangarampur police station.
The superintendent of police of South Dinajpur, Swapan Banerjee Purnapatra, who visited Thengapara this morning, said the situation was under control.
“We have seized four improvised firearms from the spot and an investigation is on. Our officers acted promptly and brought the situation under control,” the district police chief said. Both parties have filed FIRs against each other with the Gangarampur police.
The president of the district Trinamul, Biplab Mitra, alleged that hired goons of the CPM had attacked their supporters at Thengapara last night. “They are bent on keeping their eroding vote bank intact and are creating terror in many areas of the district. The CPM criminals also ransacked our party office there,” Mitra said.
The CPM minister for animal resource development, Narayan Biswas, retaliated saying the Trinamul activists attacked his party supporters after they lost the elections. “They cannot accept defeat and resorted to violence. Our supporters and local people will put up a strong resistance in the area to prevent the Trinamul Congress from doing all kinds of unethical things,” Biswas said.
The headmaster of the school, Debashis Bose, said the election to the school committee had passed off peacefully. “The elections were held between 9am and 4pm and the counting was completed by the evening. There was no trouble during this period. I heard that there was some trouble at night, but that took place outside the school,” he said.
Siliguri science college opens – 18th in a row while the hills are being squeezed dry, fortunately or unfortunately God gave them buildings, but not the ‘grace of nature’ nor the humanity or the culture of the world’s best teachers ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Oct. 4: The 18th government college in the state was inaugurated here today, more than a month after classes had started at the institution that will offer only science courses for the time being.
Established on a two-acre plot given by the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority in Matigara, the two-storeyed Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy Government College offers courses in chemistry, physics, botany, math and zoology.
“This college is the 18th government college in the state and its inauguration is a matter of pride not just for north Bengal but the entire state,” finance minister Asim Dasgupta said while formally opening the campus, 6km from here. Dasgupta had laid the foundation stone of the college two years ago.
Around 100 students have already enrolled in the institution, the third government college in the region after Darjeeling Government College and ABN Seal College in Cooch Behar.
“Twenty teaching posts have been sanctioned and 12 non-teaching posts, too, have been granted. We have also sanctioned Rs 50 lakh for the development of a library in the institution,” Dasgupta said. Subimal Sen, the chairperson of the state higher education council, Satish Tiwari, principal secretary of the state higher education department, and Asok Bhattacharya, state minister for municipal affairs and urban development were among those present at the event.
Bhattacharya said social sciences and other courses would be introduced in the college in the future.
“We have removed science from the name of the college (Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy Government College) because the institution will offer subjects related to social sciences and other courses in future,” he said.
Bhattacharya also said the state mass education department had recently sanctioned Rs 1.63 crore for setting up a government library at Siliguri.
State finance minister Asim Dasgupta inaugurated the golden jubilee celebrations of Siliguri Barodakanta Vidyapith on Monday evening. Earlier, the present and former teachers and students of the school took out a procession through the town to mark the jubilee.
Civic rallies to trade charges – no sweet fruits of unethical hegemony ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Oct. 4: The Trinamul Congress and the Congress, currently at loggerheads in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation, will hold public meetings over a span of 24 hours to trade charges against each other on the running of the civic board.
While the Trinamul meeting at Baghajatin Park tomorrow will highlight the alleged irregularities in the working of the board, the Congress convention on Wednesday will “showcase” its performance in the municipality. PCC president Manas Bhuniya will attend the event in Mitra Sammilani Hall.
Krishna Pal, a Trinamul district general secretary and a councillor, said apart from 14 councillors of the party, representatives of all its frontal organisations would attend tomorrow’s meeting.
“Our aim is to highlight how the present board, after winning last year’s civic polls, is having a hidden understanding with the CPM,” Pal said.
In the past one year, the Trinamul councillors had repeatedly suggested to the board how to increase income to overcome financial crunch, but all our suggestions went in vain, Pal said. “The board has completely failed to fulfil the aspirations of the people which we are going to highlight tomorrow.”
Last week, Trinamul councillors had announced their resignations from all committees of the SMC. Today, Pal, along with party district president Goutam Deb and councillor Arindam Mitra resigned from two committees. They handed over letters to municipal commissioner P.T. Bhutia.
Congress mayor Gangotri Dutta, however, rubbished the Trinamul allegations against the board. “Whatever allegations they have levelled against us are not true. In the meeting, we will showcase our performance in the SMC during the past one year,” Dutta said.
Darjeeling district Congress president Uday Dubey also denied the allegations that the present civic board was being run with a CPM “understanding”.
“In the past one year, except for last month’s board meeting, all other proceedings were passed with the consent of the Trinamul councillors. I am hopeful that whatever differences we have will be sorted out through dialogues,” Dubey said.
MEANWHILE FROM BELOW THE PLAINS OF DARJEELING
Principal, 3 teachers held in caning case – a culture of empathy and action yet to be understood and enculcated by Bengal ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH STAFF REPORTER
Calcutta, Oct. 4: The principal of La Martiniere for Boys and three other teachers of the school were arrested this morning in the Rouvanjit Rawla case.
The principal and the teachers were granted bail in the afternoon on a surety of Rs 500 each.
The Class VIII boy had committed suicide on February 12, four days after being caned by the principal, Sunirmal Chakravarthi, for indiscipline. His father Ajay Rawla lodged a complaint with Shakespeare Sarani police station four months later, accusing the principal and some teachers of physical and mental torture that drove Rouvanjit to death.
The charges filed against the four do not mention abetment to suicide. Chakravarthi was charged under Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code for voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means.
The section is bailable but if the charge is proved, the offence carries imprisonment of up to three years, or with fine or both.
Around 6.30am, Chakravarthi and the head of the middle school, L.J. Gunnion, were picked up from the staff quarters at the school’s 11 Loudon Street campus. David Ryan and Partha Dutta, too, were picked up from their homes.
They were charged under the Juvenile Justice Act 23, which relates to “torture of a child” by the custodian of the place/institution where he or she has been staying when the alleged crime took place, a non-bailable, cognisable offence.
“Since this is a cognisable offence, the arrest of the accused is mandatory,” said Damayanti Sen, the head of the detective department.
Asked about the timing of the arrest, two days before the school gives over for the Puja holidays, sources in Lalbazar said the investigation was over and the chargesheet was ready to be submitted today.
Chakravarthi and the three others were taken to the police headquarters at Lalbazar and then to Bankshall court.
The school management sent out a signal of solidarity. “They have been granted bail. All of them will carry out their duties as before. There is no question of suspending any of them because they have not been taken into custody,” said Supriyo Dhar, the secretary to the board of governors, La Martiniere Schools. “The arrest will not in anyway disturb classes or any other school activity,” he added.
Ajay Rawla said in Singapore, where he has shifted base: “This is a miscarriage of justice. All the sections are bailable and there is no mention of abetment to suicide. We will see how to take it forward. I am going to take this to its logical conclusion.”
Earlier in the day before bail was granted, Rawla had reacted differently at the news of the arrest. “I had almost given up hope. But my faith in the system has been restored.”
The board of governors of the school will meet tomorrow morning to decide on the course of action.
Code replaces cane in class – sparing the rod & spoiling the child, or rather a question of understanding the problem and meting out the right punishment ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY MITA MUKHERJEE
Calcutta, Oct. 4: Ask, don’t tell — that’s the new code of conduct for teachers of the La Martiniere schools in matters of indiscipline on campus.
“If a student is found doing something wrong, a teacher can ask whether he/she thinks the act is right or wrong. The teacher is barred from giving an opinion or expressing anger,” an official said, giving a peek into the draft code that is set to take effect after the Puja vacation.
So how will discipline be enforced if teachers cannot tell students where they have gone wrong?
“If they admit their mistake, then students may be asked to write an apology saying that they won’t repeat the mistake. If they don’t, they would be required to explain why they think a particular act wasn’t a mistake,” the official explained.
The guidelines, drawn up against the backdrop of the Rouvanjit Rawla suicide case, includes a chapter for parents.
“Although the code is meant for teachers, it also has a chapter containing guidelines for parents. That makes the document different from the service rules for teachers,” Sunirmal Chakravarthi, the principal of La Martiniere for Boys, had told The Telegraphdays before he and three teachers had been arrested on the charge of “torturing” Class VIII student Rouvanjit.
“One of the main objectives of our new code is to ensure that every parent is a partner to the school for the holistic development of their wards,” principal Chakravarthi said of the initiative to maintain discipline without using force.
The draft guidelines recommend that teachers write to parents regularly about their children’s progress. It also explains “what actions the school can take step by step if parents consistently do not co-operate” with the institution.
The draft code was drawn up following a directive from the Church of North India in the wake of Rouvanjit’s suicide on February 12.
A division bench of Calcutta High Court today asked La Martiniere for Boys to allow Srijan Banerjee to join Class V with immediate effect.
The basis of the order was the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, applicable in case of the Class IV student who was denied promotion on March 29, two days before the act came into effect officially. The act prohibits schools from detaining students till Class VIII. Srijan was twice detained in Class IV.
La Martiniere for Boys teacher Sanjay Smart had allegedly sought a laptop as a bribe to supply the “questions” set by him for the annual examination to ensure the boy’s promotion to Class V.
Smart was arrested on May 17 and charged with criminal intimidation, extortion and abetment to an offence following a complaint by Srijan’s father, Partha Pratim Banerjee. He is now out on bail.