As per reports, two persons have died and several sustained critical injuries after protests erupted at Dwaribhit High School in North Dinajpur district’s Islampur on Thursday. Rajesh Sarkar, a former student of the school, succumbed to bullet injuries and was declared dead on arrival at the Islampur hospital. Later, Taposh Barman, a student of class 11, who was in a critical condition succumbed to his injuries at the North Bengal Medical College. Another student Saurav Barman is undergoing treatment at the Islampur Hospital for bullet injury on his leg.
Students and former students of the high school were protesting against the appointment of three new Urdu teachers in the school, as they were demanding Bengali medium teachers of other subjects like science and mathematics. When the three new teachers came to the school to join their jobs, students blocked their entry. Soon former students and people from the locality also joined the students.
According to some reports, there are no Urdu students at the school at present. Some reports mention that a Sanskrit teacher was also among them.
When the teachers were blocked from entering the school by protesters, local Police had to intervene as the students had blocked the road in front of the school, The police resorted to lathicharge, tear gas shells and rubber bullets after they were reportedly attacked by the students.
The Police, however, denies opening fire on the protesting students. “We fired rubber bullets and tear gas shells. We did not fire bullets. Our men were injured and the protesters vandalised police vehicles,” said district police superintendent Sumit Kumar.
Chairman of Islampur Municipality and Trinamool Congress MLA Kanhaiyalal Agarwal, said, “I have spoken to the officer-in-charge of Islampur police station. He categorically told me that the police did not open fire.”
District BJP president Sankar Chakraborty claimed that the Police did open fire. “It is quite natural that students will hold protests demanding proper education. But it astonishing that the police would open fire in a school. The chief minister, who is also the police minister, should reply why her men have become so trigger happy,” he said. The BJP has called for a 12-hour bandh in protest.
“Policemen attacked us, there were no women constables on the campus. They abused us and manhandled us. What were we doing that they had to resort to a lathi-charge? We were just protesting against something,” said a student of Dwaribhit High School.
Senior minister and Trinamool secretary-general Partha Chatterjee blamed the RSS for the clashes and accused them of trying to foment trouble while assuring a probe into the incident. “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.