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Students to stay back – Schools cite logistic problems

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 13, 2009

Rockvale Academy in Kalimpong has around 650 students who live in hostels. Of them, 250 stay on the campus and the rest in private accommodations.

Rockvale Academy in Kalimpong has around 650 students who live in hostels. Of them, 250 stay on the campus and the rest in private accommodations.

July 12: Schools in Darjeeling hills will not be able to meet the “request” made by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to clear their hostels of out-station students by tomorrow noon.

Around 5,000 students in the Darjeeling hills are from different parts of India and neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Thailand.

After a clash between its supporters and police at Panighata on Friday, the Morcha set the deadline for the schools and colleges to send home students from faraway places.

“It is difficult to get in touch with parents in Bhutan and Nepal and sending their wards home without escorts will not be preferable. We are happy that the Morcha is not forcing us to empty our hostels. Since we support the demand for Gorkhaland, we will definitely keep our schools closed,” said a teacher, who did not want to be named.

All the schools have their hostels on the same compound and the authorities of these institutes feel that if they can stock up on food items, the students will not face any problems.

Many school heads were of the opinion that if the students were asked to vacate the hostels and leave the hills, it would be difficult to convince the parents to bring them back.

“They would not like to send the children back here. Moreover, if there are positive developments in Delhi and the strike is withdrawn after a few days, the guardians will have to come again to the hills with their children. We want to spare the parents of any such unnecessary inconvenience,” said a school head.

However, most of the principals, contacted by The Telegraph, said the time given by the Morcha was “too short” for the students to vacate their hostels. Most of the institutes have just begun their classes after a 15-day summer break.

“The nearest place from where the outstation students come is Calcutta and it is impossible to get an air or train ticket in just two days,” said Rabindra Subba, the director of Himali Boarding School in Kurseong. The institute is starting classes tomorrow after the summer vacation and some of the boarders arrived today, Subba said.

He said the school was making an effort to contact the guardians of students coming from other countries. “Some of them told us that they were either out of the country or were working somewhere else and asked us to take care of their wards till things returned to normal.”

The principal of a Kalimpong school said the Morcha should have taken the schools into confidence before announcing the strike.

“If the Morcha or any of its frontal organisation had talked to us and taken into consideration our concerns, it would have been better. There are certain logistical problems to reach such a large number of students their homes across India and abroad,” he said.

He added that the head of a premier institution in Darjeeling had appealed to the Morcha yesterday to review the deadline, but the party was yet to reply.

Source: The Telegraph


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