Several women in West Bengal’s North Dinajpur district on Monday demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the deaths of two students during clashes with the police last month, The Indian Express reported.
The group, including the mothers of the deceased, locked the entry gate of the Daribhit High School in Islampur where the clash occurred and refused to allow the institution to be reopened until their demands are met.
Residents have alleged that students Rajesh Sarkar and Tapas Burman succumbed to the injuries sustained during police firing. The clashes took place on September 20 after students and residents stopped three newly appointed Urdu teachers from entering a school in Islampur town, and said they needed teachers for science and English instead.
The police, however, have denied the allegations. West Bengal’s Crime Investigation Department is overseeing the probe.
The villagers claimed that the police were conducting raids in the area and arrested several men, the newspaper reported. “Men in the village are sleeping in the fields at night because they fear being arrested,” said Shakti Majumder, former gram panchayat member.
Jharna Sarkar, mother of Rajesh Sarkar, said they will not budge until the CBI takes over the investigation. “If they [administration] want to re-open the school now, they will have to go through us,” Jharna Sarkar told the English daily. “We want justice first and then peace in the area. How can peace come when the police is arresting our villagers?”
Tapan Majumder, a member of the school management committee, said that administrative officials remained absent after calling them to reopen the school. “What can we do. We called the meeting and we were told that administrative officials will be there,” Majumder told the daily. “We need to re-open the school and pleaded with guardians and villagers. I even called up officials from here but they did not come. We will convey whatever the villagers have to say to the administration.”
Leaders from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student organisation affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Kolkata on Monday and demanded that the CBI take over the investigation into the deaths.
The ABVP alleged that the Trinamool Congress led-state government was trying to hush up the investigation, PTI reported.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Union Minister Mukul Roy on Monday led a delegation of state party leaders and members of the victim’s families to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, seeking President Ram Nath Kovind’s attention to the matter. The delegation, which purportedly included the fathers of the deceased, met BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday and submitted a memorandum to the National Human Rights Commission, NDTV reported.
On September 26, the BJP called for a statewide shutdown to protest the deaths. Several incidents of violence were reported and the state government accused the BJP of calling for the strike to stall development.