Darjeeling: Caught in indefinite bandh police help evacuate Hill boarding students
Darjeeling: Police on Wednesday escorted out boarding students of a primary school in Darjeeling. Caught in an indefinite bandh it is sleepless nights for schools as to how to evacuate boarding students with vacations round the corner.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has clamped an indefinite bandh in the Hills since June 15. Hill boarding schools will be having their vacations from June 23. On Wednesday boarders of Bethany School were evacuated to Siliguri from where their parents collected them and took them home.
"We evacuated 40 odd boarders from Darjeeling with police escort" stated a Police Officer not wanting to be named. The Bethany School, established in 1957 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny is from Class Kindergarten to Class 4.
"We are coordinating with other schools and plan to evacuate all the students on June 23 together. We are coordination with the administration also. The parents who want to collect their wards will collect them from Siliguri. We have around 500 boarders from our school alone. They will be travelling together with boarders from St. Paul's and Mount Hermon " stated Father Shajumon, Rector, St. Joseph's, North Point Darjeeling.
Anxious parents have been calling up the school authorities regularly inquiring about the safety and well being of the students and how the school plans to evacuate the boarders. St Joseph's was founded by Jesuits in 1888 in Darjeeling.
Students from all over the country along with Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Hong Kong and even children of NRIs study in these Hill schools. Similar evacuation drives are being planned in Kurseong and Kalimpong also. Along with school buses, State Transport buses will also be pressed into service.
"It is a major challenge for us to evacuate the boarding students to the plains safely,''stated a police top brass.
Meanwhile Binay Tamang, Assistant Secretary of the GJM stated that the party will provide a 12 hour window period for students to be evacuated on June 23 from 6am to 6pm, though the indefinite strike will continue on that day too.
"The schools will have to arrange for their own vehicles with "School Duty" signage. They can drop the boarders to Siliguri or Sikkim from 6am to 6pm on that day" Tamang sent a message from an undisclosed location.
Incidentally the bandh has been clamped on National Highway 55 from Darjeeling to Siliguri in the plains and National Highway 10 from Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim to the plains of Siliguri.