Siliguri: A youth has died of bullet injury following a face-off between students and the police at a government-aided high school in North Dinajpur. Five villagers and three policemen have been injured.
The incident took place today afternoon at Darivit High School at Islampur in the district and the situation there is still volatile. The deceased has been identified as Rajesh Sarkar, 19, an alumnus of the school and a student of Islampur ITI College.
Darivit High School has been at the centre of a controversy for a while over the state government appointing three Urdu medium teachers for the school. This is even as an overwhelming majority of the students are Bengali speakers.
In the recent past, when the three teachers came to join duty, the students stopped them from entering the school and demanded that teachers with Bengali medium background should be appointed. The three teachers went back and reported the matter to the state education department.
Today, cops from Islampur police station accompanied the three teachers to the school. Getting a wind of this, the students, alumni, and villagers instantly took to an agitation. Some 2,000-off of them blocked the entrance to the school and also the highway passing nearby.
With police asking the students to lift the blockades, a commotion broke out between them. As soon as police served a warning that force will be applied if the agitators do not back out, the students started pelting brickbats at the police.
This made the cops to initially run for a cover. But with reinforcement arriving a little later, police turned aggressive. They first resorted to firing tear gas shells and then a lathi-charge. The students continued to retaliate by hurling brickbats.
Unable to contain the violence, police then opened a fire, people of the area alleged. A bullet hit ITI College student Rajesh Sarkar in the back. Fellow agitators rushed him to Islampur Sub-divisional Hospital in a critical condition. He died on reaching the hospital.
Five more villagers, who were part of the agitation, have suffered blunt injuries due to police lathi-charge and brickbats pelting. Three policemen have been injured in a counter-attack with brickbats.
The situation at Darvit is still tense and the death of the youth has added fuel to the anger. Anticipating more violence, a large police picket has been posted at the area.