Class X students of a school here ransacked the institute and raised a three-hour road blockade after the headmaster had told them that not all of them would be provided with bicycles under the state government's Sabuj Sathi scheme today as promised earlier.
The students rampaged through Haiderpara Buddhabharati High School on a day chief minister Mamata Banerjee distributed bicycles among children under the scheme in Jalpaiguri, 45km from the scene of the violence.
At the school in Haiderpara under ward 40 of Siliguri Municipal Corporation, students who had just appeared for Madhyamik arrived this morning to receive bicycles. They had been waiting for the cycles for the past two years.
As they went to Swapnendu Nandi, the headmaster, he informed them that the school had not yet received enough bicycles and could hand over the "Sabuj Sathi" to only some of them.
"We need 286 bicycles to distribute among the students who appeared for Madhyamik this year. However, we received only 114 cycles on March 22 and waited for six days for the remaining cycles to arrive," Nandi said.
As there is no room to keep the cycles at the building, we kept the same in open at the school ground. A guard was engaged with a remuneration of Rs 1,000 per night to look after the cycles, he said.
"As the remaining cycles did not arrive even yesterday, we decided to distribute the cycles among 114 students and ask the rest to wait for some more days," said Nandi
The students turned furious when they were told that all of them wouldn't get the cycles today. They started demonstrating in the headmaster's room and soon, a section of students went on ransacking the furniture in classrooms. Benches were tossed out and flower pots were destroyed.
After 20 minutes, the students went out of the school and squatted on the road in front of the institution, demanding that bicycles be provided to all of them immediately.
Nandi informed Bhaktinagar police who reached the spot and tried to control the students.
"The school authorities are responsible for the delay in the delivery. They have hardly taken an initiative to ensure that we get the cycles. We were in Class IX when the scheme was launched. Two years have passed since then and we have not got the bicycles," one of the students said.
The road blockade continued and Satyajit Adhikary, the local Trinamul councillor, reached the spot. "The headmaster took the entire matter very lightly. He is responsible for the chaos. He should have spoken to students in a more responsible manner. Such protests are undesirable," he said.
The headmaster said he had called the police as the situation had spun out of control.
"We understand that the students felt disappointed but the manner in which they started ransacking the furniture took us by surprise. We were forced to call the police," he said.
The headmaster and the police officers spoke to the students who were still sitting on the road, assuring them that all of them would get the cycles soon.
The blockade was lifted around 3.30pm.
The Rajganj block development officer has blamed the headmaster for the incident.
"We have made it clear to each school that the date of delivery of cycles should be fixed only after enough cycles arrived. The headmaster, however, called the students though the school did not receive enough cycles," Pema Sherpa, the BDO of Rajganj, said. "Tomorrow, I will speak to him about the issue."