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Nandigram: Students take over school from police

NANDIGRAM/KOLKATA: The simmering tension in Nandigram reached a flashpoint on Friday when schoolchildren threw out the belongings of policemen camping in their school for the past five months. The agitated students claimed that the police camp was hampering classes and their studies.

The students of Gokulnagar Gobindajiu Sikshaniketan, a secondary school in Nandigram, have been bearing with the ominous police presence on campus since February. The school authorities have appealed to the district administration, senior police officers and the state home department on a number of occasions since then, asking them to shift the camp out of the school grounds. But the police have stayed put in their camp.

The space crunch and the commotion forced the teachers to conduct classes in two shifts. Students watched silently for months, but on Friday, the dam burst. Around 10.45 am, a large group of assembled students barged into the camp and started throwing out the belongings of the policemen.

They tossed out the cooking utensils and threw away the food prepared for the policemen. They also started shouting at them, asking them to leave at once. Teachers present tried to pacify the defiant students, but in vain.

Some of them - Dipak Bari, Khokon Das Adhikari, Mitali Bera and Mukesh Pramanik - were fuming. "We don't care about their duty or the tension in the area. Our studies were being hampered because of the police camp. They can go and stay anywhere else they want to," one of them said.

Headmaster Himangshu Sekhar Munian did not support the students' behaviour, but added in the same breath that repeated pleas to shift the camp out had fallen on deaf ears. Champak Choudhury, officer-in-charge, Nandigram police station, rushed to the spot and assured school authorities that the camp would soon be removed. A policeman, who bore the brunt of the students' ire, admitted that it was difficult for students to concentrate on their studies in such a situation.

Senior officers in Kolkata are yet to decide where they will put up the policemen now.

"We know we have to shift the camp, but we have to find an alternate location. We can pitch tents out in the open, but when it rains, the condition in the tents becomes really bad. There is no other place nearby to set up a camp," said Raj Kanojia, IG, law and order.

"This is not the first time that we have used school buildings. And sometimes, policemen there help school authorities. There was a camp at Rasiknagar, Purulia, where our head constables even held classes for students when there was a shortage of teachers," Kanojia said.
Times of India

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posted by Resistance 6/16/2007 12:23:00 PM,

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