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Leave those kids alone: teachers of bandh-hit schools tell Gorkhaland agitators

The indefinite bandh, which entered its 94th day on Saturday, has badly affected school students, especially those who will appear for final board examinations next year.

kolkata Updated: Sep 16, 2017 21:44 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times
A few hundred teachers from private and government-run schools in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong taking part in the rally on Saturday. (HT Photo)

Thousands of school students affected by the political impasse in Darjeeling hills found their teachers walking that extra mile on Saturday. A few hundred teachers organised a peace rally in Kurseong and demanded that schools be allowed to function normally.

The bandh called by 15 political parties and organisations spearheading the Gorkhaland movement entered its 94th day on Saturday. Darjeeling and Kalimpong are known for some of the best convent schools in the country and children from not only other states but countries such as Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Thailand come here to study.

Read: Darjeeling unrest: Bengal govt to explore options for tripartite meeting

Kurseong alone is home to 17 ICEC schools and many missionary and government-run schools. The bandh has caused immense problem for the students, especially those who will appear for their final board examinations in 2018.

On Saturday, heads of the ICSE schools and some government-run schools organised the rally. Teachers carried placards that said: “Gorkhaland is our constitutional right, education is our fundamental right.”

Addressing the rally, Robindra Subba, director of Himali Boarding School, said education cannot be allowed to suffer. Most of the teachers said they supported the demand for Gorkhaland but did not want a separate state at the cost of education.

Read: President’s rule after 90 days of shutdown: Wild rumours doing the rounds in Darjeeling

Chetan Tewari, principal at St Anthony’s School and Kurseong coordinator for Association of Hill Listed ICSE Schools said, “Students have already suffered a heavy loss and we humbly request all parties to allow normal functioning of schools.”

Though most of the schools in Kurseong are open, students are not attending classes in uniform.

Read: Darjeeling unrest: GJM supporters clash with police as administration try to lift bandh

In Darjeeling and Kalimpong, classes are being held outside the schools. Some institutions are even organising special classes for final-year students in Siliguri. This is putting additional financial burden on parents.

Tewari told HT that though more than 95 per cent boarders have returned to his school, the students and teachers feel insecure. “This insecurity should be done away with,” he said.

Some of the reputable schools in the region are St Paul’s School (set up in 1864), St Joseph’s School (1888), Loreto Convent (1846), Goethals Memorial (1907), Mount Hermon (1895), Dr Graham’s Homes (1900). Almost all these institutions have boarding facility for students.

First Published: Sep 16, 2017 21:44 IST