Islampur incident underlines need for caution

The disturbances in a school in Islampur over the appointment of an Urdu teacher in which three students died of bullet injuries underlines the need for extreme caution and a greater alertness on the part of the police and civil administration. The students wanted more teachers for teaching Bengali. They were opposed to appointing an Urdu teacher because they claimed there are very few Urdu students. Trouble broke out when the Urdu teacher went to the school to report for duty. When the police arrived on the scene they were alleged to have been subjected to heavy stone pelting from the school premises. This strongly suggests that stones had previously been collected. The ABVP, the student wing of the BJP, has claimed that two of the three students killed were its members. Local BJP leaders have stood by the students.
The police have denied using firearms; the question that arises is who then shot the fatal bullets. The State Government says this is being inquired into. The BJP gave a call for a district bandh which evoked a mixed response. Strangely, the SFI, the students’ wing of the CPM, also called for an all-Bengal students strike on Saturday. Obviously, the Islampur incident is being politicized and all opposition parties are trying to make it an issue against the ruling TMC and its government. The BJP and the Left have made a common cause. This is significant. That the trouble broke out on the eve of Muharram may not be entirely coincidental. TMC leaders have alleged that ‘outsiders’ were brought in from Bihar to create trouble. They have seen the hand of the RSS in this.
The intensity and dimension of the trouble over the appointment of a school teacher is indicative of the highly sensitive situation prevailing in rural Bengal. Obviously, some forces are trying to create trouble and take political advantage of the situation. It requires a mature handling, a judicious combination of firmness and flexibility. If communal forces are behind the trouble, as the Chief Minister has suggested from abroad, then the ruling party should strive to isolate the trouble-makers politically. This requires finesse and imagination as also a close touch with the people. In the absence of the Chief Minister and party supremo, the TMC leaders will have to tread cautiously and beware of making any inadvertent fauz pas.

Tuesday, 25 September, 2018