The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Left parties took out marches and organised shutdown in different parts of West Bengal to protest the clashes between students and police at a school in Islampur which left two students dead.
The clashes erupted on Thursday when students, former students and some locals objected to the recruitment of two Urdu teachers and one Sanskrit teacher in the Daribhit High School demanding that there was an urgent need for science and English teachers.
According to reports, Rajesh Sarkar, an ITI student, died on Thursday while Tapas Barman, a third-year student, succumbed to his injuries in North Bengal Medical College and Hospital on Friday.
Locals alleged that the two were killed in police firing. The charge was denied by DIG Raiganj range Jayanta Paul.
As the heat mounted, the West Bengal Police said on Friday that the two who died were “outsiders” and not students of the school. The police also said that the “unruly mob” was “armed with deadly weapons”.
“In Darivit High School incident at Islampur, 2 persons who died were outsiders & not students of the school. Mis-information of police firing is being spread by some motivated persons with vested interest to forment further breach of peace in the area,” read a tweet posted by the WB Police on Friday, after Opposition parties slammed the police and the state government over the incident.
“The unruly mob were armed with deadly weapons & attacked the Police due to which one policeman suffered gun shot injury & few others were injured. Police investigation is on to find out the instigators. 7 persons arrested,” read a second tweet.
In Darivit High School incident at Islampur, 2 persons who died were outsiders & not students of the school. Mis-information of police firing is being spread by some motivated persons with vested interest to forment further breach of peace in the area…(1/2)
— West Bengal Police (@WBPolice) September 21, 2018
(2/2)….. The unruly mob were armed with deadly weapons & attacked the Police due to which one policeman suffered gun shot injury & few others were injured. Police investigation is on to find out the instigators. 7 persons arrested.
— West Bengal Police (@WBPolice) September 21, 2018
At a press conference held in Uttar Dinajpur on Saturday, CPI(M) politburo member Mohammed Salim demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident.
“We demand a judicial inquiry into the firing,” he said while pointing out that there has not been a single judicial inquiry into the Kalaichak and Dhulagarh riots.
“Why did it take the police 24 hours to clarify whether they fired or not?” asked Salim. He said that post-mortem and ballistic tests can confirm whose bullet killed the two.
He also said that as per the directions of the Supreme Court, the post-mortem in such cases must be conducted in presence of a magistrate, family members and an expert and the entire process must be video-graphed.
Salim also raised concerns over the rising cases of political violence in the state and said that there has been a rise in arms smuggling.
Accusing the state administration of failing on all fronts, Salim said that “TMC leaders are part of the problem, not the solution”.
Salim had on Friday said that police committed an “unpardonable criminal offence” by killing the students. He said that the cops could easily disperse the students using lathi-charge but “suddenly they started firing indiscriminately.
Earlier today, CPI(M) leaders Dr Sujan Chakraborty and Ashok Bhattacharya met the families of the victims at Darivit.
A delegation team led by Comrade @Sujan_Speak and Ashok Bhattacharya went to Darivit and met the victim families of those student who have been succumbed to death as puppet Police of @AITCofficial Govt open fire on protesting students.#BengalMeansBullet pic.twitter.com/pgzh2Jjsct
— CPI(M) WEST BENGAL (@CPIM_WESTBENGAL) September 22, 2018
The BJP, on the other hand, has demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident.
In a press conference held on Friday, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh compared Mamata Banerjee’s government to the British government.
“The barbarity of the British government is being perpetrated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee government and the police firing at even Daribhit High School campus near Islampur is a glaring evidence of the incompetence and barbarity of the TMC government,” he said.
Ghosh said that it was a peaceful movement of the students against erratic and unnecessary recruitment of the teachers.
Calling for a CBI inquiry, Ghosh said that an investigation into how the police was allowed to enter the campus and who instructed them to open fire must be held.
The BJP had organised a 12-hour bandh on Friday.
উত্তর দিনাজপুর জেলার ইসলামপুরে স্কুলের ছাত্র আন্দোলনে পুলিশের গুলিতে ২জন নিরীহর মৃত্যু এবং নির্বিচারে পুলিশের নির্লজ্জ অত্যাচারের প্রতিবাদে ১২ঘন্টার সর্বাত্মক বন্ধ পালিত হচ্ছে। pic.twitter.com/v3ALnp7geh
— BJP Bengal (@BJP4Bengal) September 21, 2018
The Trinamool Congress, however, accused the RSS of creating tensions in the area.
“The RSS is bringing outsiders and indulging in politics there. The RSS or the BJP, whoever is responsible (for the incident) will not be spared,” Education Minister and TMC leader Partha Chatterjee reportedly said in Kolkata.
The education department also suspended the District Inspector of Schools of North Dinajpur, Rabindranath Mondal, in view of the appointment of Urdu teachers.
According to a report in The Indian Express, officials of Daribhit High School said that the school did not seek any Urdu teacher and it does not have any Urdu-speaking student.