Massive clashes erupted between the students of Darivit High School in Islampur and police on Thursday in which two ex-students have been killed. The two students have been identified as Rajesh Sarkar and Tapas Barman.
While Sarkar died at the spot, Tapas was moved to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital with serious injuries. He later succumbed to his injuries. Parents of the two deceased have claimed that they died in police firing. However, the police and administration have ruled out such allegations.
The students of the school situated in North Dinajpur district’s Islampur were agitating over the demand for recruitment of teachers for subjects like English, Bengali, History and Science after two teachers were appointed to teach Urdu.
Interestingly, Darivit High School is a Bangla-medium school with a strength of 1700 where none of the students had opted for Urdu as a subject.
On Thursday afternoon, police escorted the two newly recruited Urdu teachers to the school while the protesting students prevented them from entering the campus. The confrontation led to a clash between the students and the police.
The students allegedly pelted stones at the police during the clashes. In retaliation, police reportedly fired tear gas shells and resorted to a lathicharge.
Parents of these students and locals have claimed that police opened fire at the students. Four locals, three policemen and some students have suffered serious injuries.
"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 lathicharge? We were just protesting against something," said a student of Darivit High School.
Meanwhile, state education minister Partha Chatterjee has suspended the district inspector of education but rubbished the allegations of police firing on the students. "The education ministry was kept in the dark. We had no information about the recruitment. We have suspended the district inspector of education. Death of anyone is extremely unfortunate. We are investigating the matter and appropriate action will be taken. We assure the parents of the deceased that they will get justice," said Chatterjee.
Soon after the deaths, a political blame game has begun over the incident.
Chatterjee pinned the blame for the clashes on the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). "We feel that RSS could be behind this unrest. Not just RSS, but BJP and Left are trying to politicise the student's death,” added Chatterjee.
The Bharata Janata Party (BJP), in turn, called a 12-hour bandh in North Dinajpur condemning the alleged killing of the two students. The bandh saw mixed reactions from the people.
Some agitators vandalised a public bus and asked the passengers to leave. Most shops and stores remained closed and very few buses were seen plying on the roads.