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Forces leave one school in Lalgarh

Posted by Admin on December 4, 2009

File picture of a students’ protest against the shutdown at Gohomidanga High School

Midnapore, Dec. 3: The government has started shifting security forces camping in schools in the Lalgarh region, days after Calcutta High Court set a December 31 deadline for doing so.

About 200 CRPF and state police personnel today vacated Gohomidanga High School, where protests against the halt to classes began in July.

The forces had entered the school in June after marching into Lalgarh to end a seven-month siege led by Maoists.

Today, the jawans marched 15km to Chandra, where a temporary camp has been set up on the panchayat premises.

West Midnapore district police chief Manoj Verma said the high schools under security forces’ occupation in Kantapahari, Bhimpur, Lalgarh and Nachhipur would be vacated in the next seven days. “New buildings to house the forces are almost ready. Work on water and power supply is on.”

On November 24, the court had rejected a government plea to give it three months more to vacate the schools. The order came on a petition by an NGO, which said thousands of students were being denied education because of the troops.

The government had said that it was difficult to get civil contractors to work in Maoist-hit pockets. The argument was rejected.

District magistrate N.S. Nigam today said the administration would vacate all the seven high schools within the deadline. “We are facing some difficulties with a few camps but we will sort them out,” he said.

An officer said finding land for the camps was a problem in Salboni. “A building to house two to three companies of forces (200 to 300 personnel) requires about 3 to 4 acres. Space has to be left for exercise and games. The government doesn’t have land at Satpati, Moupal and Bhadutala, under Salboni police station.”

The first students’ protest at Gohomidanga was spontaneous but the Maoist-backed People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities tried to use the discontent to fan the anti-administration sentiment among a section of villagers. The students were used as a human shield in a march with armed committee supporters, prompting the police to launch a baton charge.

In late July, teachers of Gohomidanga High School started taking classes in makeshift tents after Maoists with guns visited their homes and ordered them to report for work.

“Rain destroyed the tents and the classes stopped again. On November 18, they vacated four rooms for tests for secondary and HS candidates after we threatened to take the exams on the road,” said headmaster Nemai Patra. He was hopeful about being able to resume classes from Monday. TT

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