Gorkhatimes

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Students leave hills for home

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 14, 2009

A file picture of a jeep being loaded with provisions in Darjeeling during a Morcha strike

A file picture of a jeep being loaded with provisions in Darjeeling during a Morcha strike

Kalimpong, July 13: Queues of vehicles stood in front of some of the residential schools here as students left for their homes today, the first day of the indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the hills.

The Morcha had requested all tourists and students living in hostels to leave the hills by noon today. According to a rough estimate, nearly 300 of the 3,000-odd boarders of the nine residential schools in Kalimpong left town. Most of the students who left were from neighbouring areas like Sikkim, Bhutan and the north Bengal plains.

School heads said anxious parents from distant places had been calling them up to enquire about the situation here. “Had they got sufficient time to organise the travel plans, the majority of them would have taken their wards home,” said a principal.

The Telegraph saw a small group of Bangladeshi students and parents leave a hotel here. They, however, refused to speak to the correspondent.

Tenzing Norphel Bhutia, a Class VI student of Dr Graham’s Homes, was on his way home to Gangtok on a vehicle sent by his father. “My father told me to come home if the school authorities gave us permission to leave. Some of the boys were leaving, and I, too, decided to go,” he said, looking bemused when approached for an interview.

Paras Mani Kharel, a resident of Gangtok, took his daughter, a Class V student of St Joseph’s Convent, home from a private hostel where she was staying. “The situation is uncertain and I decided to take my daughter home,” he said. He, however, said the thought of shifting his daughter to a school elsewhere has not occurred as yet.

Many associated with education, however, fear that if the Morcha continues to include the sector in the loop of its agitation, parents from outside will think twice before sending their wards to study in the hills. “The damage has already been done, but the situation can still be saved if the Morcha went goes back to its earlier promise to exempt education from the purview of its agitation,” said a teacher.

Among the outstation students, a good number of them are from neighbouring countries like Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Thailand.

According to rough estimates, 25 per cent of the 3,000-odd outstation students in the Kalimpong subdivision are foreigners.

Source: The Telegraph

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