With the Central forces camping in Lalgarh schools and the consequent disruption in the education of the children in the area becoming a major issue, the West Bengal government on Friday sought to assure that it will try to compensate in every possible way, so that the children can resume classes at the earliest.
Amid reports that Central forces occupying the schools since June 18 left behind a trail of broken chairs and tables, and massive electricity bills, and that the school authorities were finding it difficult to restart classes, State Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborti told journalists at the Secretariat that the State government will meet the electricity dues and also pay for either repairs, or buy new furniture as may be necessary.
“The school authorities will have to submit their requirements to the District Magistrates who have been asked to assess the funds requirement,” he said.
On the withdrawal of the forces from the area, he said 300 companies of the Central forces had to be deployed in Jharkhand for the ongoing electioneering there and it is likely that some will be posted back in the Lalgarh area once the process is over.
Responding to a question on whether the State police could be deployed, he said already 20 companies of the State police force are present in these areas and if any more are deployed, “then the police stations and thanas will suffer.” He also admitted that the State needed to recruit more policemen.
Special Correspondent adds from Kolkata:
Special coaching facilities will be made available to students in schools that are now being used as camps for security forces. The expenses will be borne by the State Government.
The decision was reportedly announced by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at a meeting with District Magistrates convened to review implementation of development projects.
It was noted that studies of students enrolled in these schools have been severely affected ever since the premises were taken over by security forces with the launch of the joint security operations in the area.
In all, 22 schools have been used as camps for security personnel since the operations began. Subsequently the forces have moved out of a few. On Thursday the security forces vacated one more school – Gohomidanga High School – that has been used as a camp since the start of security operations. The Calcutta High Court in a recent order had directed that the remaining schools be vacated by December 30.
The Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee has been using the denial of education to students as a pretext to intensify its agitation against the deployment of forces.