Darjeeling schools to remain shut on poll days

THE STATESMAN

Siliguri, 18 July- Though Darjeeling district is out of bounds as far as the ongoing process of the rural polls is concerned the schools located in Siliguri are not being spared. The schools here would remain closed for three days at a stretch as the school buses ferrying students to and from the institutions have been requisitioned by the administration for the polls.

For instance, the Don Bosco School in Siliguri will remain closed from 24 to 26 July.

“The junior section will remain closed from 23 to 26 July. However, the senior section of the school will remain closed from 24 to 26 July. In addition, it will be a half day on 23 July. We have been forced to take the decision since the school buses have been requisitioned for the poll duty. Ours is an institution known for its commitment to academic discipline. However, we have no option left but to have the institution closed for as many as three days,” said the institution’s principal, Father V T Jose.

A Class XII student of the same institution, Sourav Goyal said the class examination had been scheduled to begin from 12 July.

“But it was postponed,” he said. He said the school buses should be spared during electioneering. “It affects studies,” he added.

The Delhi Public School (DPS), which runs the maximum number of school buses in the town, has appealed to the administration not to requisition them in the interests of the students.

“The school will remain closed from 23 to 27 July. DPS runs around 60 school buses,” he added.

At least 16 school buses of Auxilium Convent School are learnt to have been booked for the poll duty. Around 700 students of the school avail themselves of the school buses.

“Our school will remain closed from 23 to 26 July. We have received a letter from the administration that the buses would be engaged for election duty. I feel, voting is our democratic right. But taking school buses for polls affecting studies in the process is not the right thing,” said the school principal, Sister Siny.

The situation is the same with the Royal Academy School at Matigara. It will remain closed from 23 to 26 July. “Around 70 per cent of our students avail of the school buses. As we have no buses of our own, we run them on rent,” informed the spokesperson of the school.

The administration has taken possession of two rooms of Jermel’s Academy located at Majhabari to use them as polling booths. “We are perforce adjusting with the situation having been left with no other option,” said the principal of the institution, Mr Ejaz E Sadiq.

Defending the administration’s decision to requisition school buses for poll work, the Siliguri sub-divisional officer (SDO), Rachna Bhagat said this is a normal process.

“Buses are required for electioneering. So far we have sent around 165 buses for the rural polls for Jalpaiguri district,” she said.

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