A second youth succumbed to his injuries last Thursday night following clashes between the Kolkata Police and agitating students in north Bengal’s Islampur over the appointment of teachers to Daribhit High School. The incident has left at least 10 others injured. The victim, identified as Tapas Burman, 19, was a student of Islampur College and a former student of the high school. He was critically injured in the clashes on Thursday and had been admitted to North Bengal Medical College Hospital in Siliguri, where he died.
A 12-hour bandh, observed by the BJP in the North Dinajpur district Friday, saw mixed response with sporadic violence. Two government buses were damaged in Raigunj by agitators. Shops and business establishments remained closed. There has, however, been little response from other parts of the district.
Rajesh Sarkar, a former student of the school who was studying at a local polytechnic college, was shot dead during a clash on Thursday. Police, however, have denied using live ammunition, saying it only used rubber bullets and tear gas shells.
Speaking to the media, state education minister Partha Chatterjee said, “We have sought a report from the district administration and police. The state home secretary is looking into the matter himself. Those who are doing this politics of violence should introspect. Any death is tragic and sad. RSS may be fanning trouble there.”
DIG Jayanta Pal had said Thursday, “We have received a report that one person died due to bullet injuries. The police did not fire bullets. However, we will enquire as to what happened.” North Dinajpur SP Sumit Kumar, too, denied that bullets were fired.
According to police and local sources, a group of students started protesting when three new teachers visited the school. The students had been demanding appointment of teachers to teach literature and science in Bengali, claiming that there was a shortage of such teachers.
However, the three new teachers teach Urdu and Sanskrit. When the teachers tried to enter the school, they were thwarted by students, who were later joined by former students and local residents. The agitating students blocked the road in front of the school.
A large police contingent soon reached the spot. An altercation started and police resorted to lathicharge, following which protesters lobbed bricks and stones. Later, police resorted to tear gas shells and rubber bullets. A number of police personnel were injured and some police vehicles were vandalised.
Questions persist over who opened fire during the clash.