Communal tension was sparked at Tehatta High School in Uluberia in Howrah district of West Bengal, over the celebration of Saraswati Puja at the school.
On Tuesday morning, nearly 100 students from the school had marched to National Highway 6 and blocked the road. They carried an idol of Goddess Saraswati, who is believed to be the Goddess of Education and Arts, and protested against the order for which the school has remained on a lock down for the last two months. The students demanded to celebrate the Puja within the campus on Wednesday.
They were also accompanied by the locals who were caught in a frenzy and pelted stones on the police who went to stop the protest. The police also retaliated with tear gas and lathi charge. Two of the policemen were reportedly injured.
Why was the school locked down?
The problem started in December 2016 after students from a certain community were stopped from celebrating Milad-un-Nabi, the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad within the school campus. Few students wanted to build a stage and hold a celebration within the school, but, they were denied and asked to get permission from government authority to organise the event.
The administration in the school claimed that eventually no permission was taken and a group of students supported by “outsiders” wanted to conduct Milad-un-Nabi inside its premises on December 13 forcibly. Naturally, it triggered a violent unrest in the locality and resulted in vandalising of school property.
The situation grew worse after the school administration announced that Saraswati Puja would be observed on February 1. After receiving threats from a group of students, the administration wrote to the district police on 16 December and 27 January, seeking help on the issue. After the letter had been sent, the West Bengal Board Of Secondary Education ordered an indefinite closure of the school because of the ongoing tension. Bowing down to pressure, the Headmaster Utpal Mallik also submitted his resignation.
The school opened briefly for a week earlier this month, to deliver the results of an exam held earlier, but closed again.
The violence over celebrating Saraswati Puja
Following the closure of the school, Saraswati Puja was also not celebrated on February 1. Students were looking forward to this celebration.
The protest over celebrating Saraswati Puja took a violent turn and police reportedly had to resort to detaining 14 protestors.
Many of the parents had also protested for reopening the school as the class X, and class XII examinations are just around the corner.
“After hours of trying, we finally controlled the mob who were in a frenzy. Police personnel were grievously injured in controlling the protestors. We saw adults pelting stones at us keeping the school kids in front of them. They have been backed by some political leaders as well,” said one of the police officers from Uluberia Police Station to The Logical Indian.
The Logical Indian opinion
There have been several reports of communal tension in West Bengal under the rule of Trinamool Congress Government led by Mamata Banerjee. The state should take stern action against groups which incite violence and make every issue communal.
We also request the concerned authorities to mediate a solution so that the students can go back to school.