A group of students hit the streets on Wednesday in Chauhata village of Basirhat subdivision in West Bengal to demand the resumption of Saraswati Puja that has been stopped by school authorities of Adarsha Vidyapith for the past 8 years.
Despite repeated requests in the past, the school authorities have turned a blind eye to their demands. The students have now submitted a proposal to the current Headmaster, Himanshu Shekhar Mandal, asking him to make arrangements for Saraswati Puja, failing which a larger protest would be organised.
The students have also locked the school gates and blocked the Boyalghata-Kolupukur Road. The former Headmaster of the school, Ashok Chandra Sarkar, had reportedly stopped the puja for all these years. Mr. Mandal who had joined the school 6 months ago, has now passed on the blame to the school management committee. Due to the protests by the students in the school which has around 1700 students, the final day of the annual sports meet had to be cancelled.
Saraswati Puja as organised at the school in 2012, after that it was discontinued following a clash. Every year the students apply to organise the puja devoted to the goddess of education, but every year the request is rejected by the school management committee. Headmaster Himanshu Shekhar Mandal said that he has received a request from students wanting to organise the puja at the school, and he has forwarded the same to the management committee, but he has not received any reply them from yet.
According to some reports, the Saraswati puja was discontinued in the schools after Muslims in the area had objected to it. They had demanded that if Saraswati puja is organised, the school will have to organise Nabi Divas (Prophet Day) also. After this, the school management committee had decided that neither will be organised in the school.
This incident has now brought back memories of 2017 when Muslim villagers had stopped a local school from celebrating Saraswati Puja. They had allegedly asked the school authorities to celebrate Nabi Divas (Prophet Day). The school had to be shut for a staggering 26 days after it rejected the demands made by the Muslim community.
Nusrat Jahan is the current Member of Parliament from Basirhat constituency that has roughly 54% Muslim population. This is not the first time that a controversial incident from Barishat has come to light.
In recent years, it has been the epicentre for communal violence. 3 years ago, a Facebook post by a teenager had sparked violence by radical Muslim outfits.