Aggrieved students set schools on fire, government remains mute spectators

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Fire tender dousing the fire on the eastern building of the Churachand (C.C) Higher Secondary School. The school was apparently set on fire by students, reacting to the indifference shown by the government to their demand of resumption of classes. Government school teachers have been on strike for around two months demanding implementation of the 6th Pay commission in toto.
Fire tender dousing the fire on the eastern building of the Churachand (C.C) Higher Secondary School. The school was apparently set on fire by students, reacting to the indifference shown by the government to their demand of resumption of classes. Government school teachers have been on strike for around two months demanding implementation of the 6th Pay commission in toto.

IMPHAL, Feb 15: Aggrieved with the ongoing tussle between the teachers led by the Council of Teachers’ Association and the state government regarding the implementation of the 6th Pay commission in toto, students of various schools resorted to arson and set school buildings on fire today.

Reacting to the indifference shown to their demand of resumption of classes, students today set on fire the eastern building of the Churachand (C.C) Higher Secondary School which is made of tin roof and houses the Fatima Memorial Hall and four other rooms. “Apparently, the fire first erupted from the roof of the old kitchen which then spread to the other buildings,” said the peon of the school.

In the first instance, students at around 10:15 am today, furniture and property of Model Higher Secondary School in Imphal West was set afire within the school campus reportedly by the agitating students, however a patrolling team of the Assam Rifles who were passing by the school at that time, managed to doused the fire in time.

In the second incident, at around 11:30 am today, Churachand (C.C) Higher Secondary School, which is located in front of the state’s chief secretary’s official residence, was burned reportedly by the agitating students of the state government schools.

The eastern building of the school which is made of tin roof that housed Fatima Memorial Hall and four rooms went up in flame. “Apparently, the fire first erupted from the roof of the old kitchen which then spread to the other buildings,” said the peon of the school.

Fire tenders from the nearby Imphal fire brigade rushed to the spot and salvaged the building from being reduced to tinder and prevented the fire from spreading further. Imphal East police team was also present to take stock of the situation.
The police picked up a scooter bearing registration number MNB-9678 and a bicycle from near the incident spot after no one showed up to claim them.

It may be mentioned that in the face of deprivation of their right to education for over a month with the current face off between the teachers and the state government, the students of the state left with no other choice but to stand up and defend for themselves had today warned of burning down their respective schools.

Students had earlier on February 12 taken out to the streets and stormed the gates of Raj Bhavan demanding intervention from the Governor in the teachers-government face-off.

The students had also set a deadline of 1 pm of February 13 for the government to respond to their demands ignoring which the students will be left with no other option but to burn down their schools which have become useless buildings in the face of the present confrontation between the government and the teachers.

As a part of their agitations, the students had locked up several building related to education in the state including the Directorate (s) office at Lamphelpat and schools starting from February 13.

With the class X and XII board exams just round the corner and with no one else to fall upon the students have decided take the matter into their own hands.

Unmindful of the students’ dilemma and pitiful situation COTA has been on striking mode on and off demanding the implementation of the central six pay commission in toto. Infact the teachers’ association has already started their fast unto death agitation which has resulted in the arrest of scores of teachers. The teachers also seem to have decided not to empathize with the plight of the students with the board exams which will be defining the lives of the students just round the corner.

Meanwhile, the chief minister in his public speech recently said that there are just not enough funds with the government for it to comply with the demand of the teachers with regards to central six pay.

The plight of the students has been exacerbated with the government employing huge numbers of government teachers as enumerators and supervisors during the ongoing national census operation 2011. Students of class X and XII in the State will sit for their board and council exams sometimes in March next.

Meanwhile a relase of the Council of Teacher’s Association (COTA) has appreciated the solidarity shown by the families of the teachers presently imprisoned at Sajiwa jail. The family members held a sit in protest at Johnston Higher Secondary school sowing solidarity to the cause of the teachers.

A press release by the publicity convenor of COTA , Sirajjudin stated that the action of the SPF government of imprisoning 152 teachers for 27 days will go down in infamy in the history of the state. The government which should strive to bring quality education for the future of the state has on the other hand only hindered it by failing to acknowledge the demands of the teachers.

It has further urged the responsible state authorities to intervene in the regard and to address the issue of the COTA with the utmost urgency.

The MLAs of the opposition also need to address the issue, as they are also part of the government instead of monitoring the pay out of their local area development fund, the release concluded.

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