After being cooped up for 25 long hours in the staff room, the principal, 13 teachers, and six non-teaching staff of south Kolkata’s Santoshpur Rishi Aurobindo Balika Vidyapith were finally allowed to go home on Tuesday.
Since Monday noon, all 20 of them had been gheraoed by a group of students from Class 12 and Class 10, who had flunked the pre-board examinations. The students were demanding that they be allowed to sit for the boards. Hundreds of other students and their guardians, meanwhile, held a parallel protest inside the school, demanding that the blockade be lifted.
The students let the teachers go only after the state higher secondary education council decided to look into their grievances. Though violence in college campuses is a recurrent event in West Bengal, agitation in schools is unprecedented. Members of the school management committee hinted at a covert Trinamool Congress ploy to fan trouble and take control of the institution.
Education minister Bratya Basu, however, denied any political interference. Had the school authorities allowed him to intervene, the issue would not have become so serious, he said. “I wanted to stop the gherao with police help, but the school authorities did not allow us to do so.”
Students involved in the blockade complained that their answersheets had not been properly checked. “On the other hand, a girl caught cheating managed to pass,” said Priyanka Sharma. “While going through the marks of the students, we found some students have been given up to 29 grace marks,” said Basu. “We have asked the school to conduct a re-examination of the students who failed,” said Muktinath Chatterjee, president of the state higher secondary education council.