|Books lie strewn in the ransacked teachers’ room at the school in Khargram. Picture by Chayan Majumdar|
TT, Behrampore, March 8: Around 1,000 students today broke furniture and computer sets and damaged several motorcycles belonging to teachers in a Murshidabad school after the headmaster allegedly demanded Rs 90 as centre fee for the higher secondary exams.
The trouble started at Purulia High School in Khargram around noon when the 89 higher secondary examinees turned up at the administrative office to collect their admit cards. The students alleged that the headmaster refused to give away the admit cards unless they paid Rs 90 each.
Headmaster Abdul Alim denied he had asked for Rs 90 from each student and said he would have paid the money from the school fund had he known the students would resort to such ruckus.The higher secondary exams will begin on March 15.
Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee said the government would seek a report from the school.
"Stern action will be taken against those who are found guilty of destroying school property. The government will not tolerate vandalism in schools," said Chatterjee.
The government has decided to bring in a bill to penalise people found guilty of destroying the state's property.
An employee of the school said: "After the headmaster, refused to give the admit cards, the students became furious and some of them ransacked the teachers' room. The teachers ran for safety, but some were pushed to the ground. Hearing the commotion, junior students ran to the school office and joined in the rampage. They had their own grievances."
Initially, a small force arrived from Khargram police station, but it was outnumbered. A 100-strong contingent stopped the students around 1pm.
District superintendent of police Mukesh said: "The teams from Khargram, Burwan and Kandi police stations controlled the situation. We are yet to receive a complaint from the school."
Education department officials said individual schools had the right to fix their own test centre fees. But in most schools, the maximum amount was approximately Rs 50, they said.
The officials pointed out that such violence was till now unheard of in schools.
"We don't know on what basis the school fixed the centre fee at Rs 90. The amount is a bit high. But it is not wrong on the part of this particular school if all the other institutions in the area are charging the same amount," an official said.
According to the official, schools of a particular area fix the centre fee after a meeting of the heads of different institutions in the vicinity.
Headmaster Alim declined having forced any student to pay Rs 90.
"I never told the students that admit cards won't be given if Rs 90 is not paid. If they could not pay, we would have given the money from the school fund. I don't understand why they went on the rampage," the headmaster said.