Kurseong police requested to closed school early for CM Mamata pass

Mamata Banerjee in Darjeeling
Barely two hours before Mamata Banerjee's cavalcade was to cross Kurseong town, police there today requested 22 schools near NH55 to give over an hour early so that the highway could be kept clear for the chief minister to pass.
While the police said the request was made to the schools so that students would not be inconvenienced, an educationist from Kurseong, who did not want to be identified, said he found the police's action "hilarious". "I have never come across such a thing in my life, most of which has been spent as an educationist. Education is more important than ensuring a hassle-free drive for the chief minister."
Sources in various schools said they received a call from police between 1pm and 1.45pm, requesting their co-operation and asking that students be allowed to leave for home by 2pm, instead of 3pm that is the regular closing time. "The request also came a bit too late in the day," said the educationist.
One school source said: "It was not a diktat but a request from the police, who even went to the extent of saying that their jobs would be at stake if we did not co-operate."
Classes usually start in hill schools at 8.30am and get over by 3pm. Soon after the police called up the schools, many institutions did close for the day at 2pm. All schools in Kurseong could not be contacted individually. Those schools that declared an early holiday today did not want their institution's names to come on print. "Please don't print the name of my school as we don't want to be in the firing line," joked one teacher.
The chief minister has earlier too taken the same highway to Darjeeling but on most occasions, she reached Bagdogra in the afternoon and after administrative meetings, left for the hills around evening.
Today, the chief minister landed at Bagdogra airport at 2.35pm and left for Darjeeling in 12 minutes. The chief minister's convoy touched Kurseong town at 3.45pm, about two hours after the police called up the schools to make the request for an early closure.
The chief minister reached Richmond Hill in Darjeeling at 5.35pm.
When schools give over in Kurseong, a traffic jam usually follows as NH55 runs right through the town. "To make matters worse, there is no foot path in the heart of town," said a resident, which means that students walk right on the road while going home.
Since morning today, Kurseong police had been minding traffic in the heart of the town.
Many students walk back home and in the absence of a proper footpath, there is traffic congestion.
An equal number of students also go home in pool cars which too slow traffic.
When asked if the school authorities had managed to inform the parents, a principal said: "No, we could not. So we decided to keep the students back in school. However, parents usually come a bit early to fetch their children."
The GTA is constructing a parking space in Kurseong but work is not over yet.
C.B. Subba, the acting subdivional police officer of Kurseong, today denied that they had closed the schools. "We definitely cannot close schools. We don't have such powers. However, we sought their co-operation to basically ensure that students who would be returning home would not be inconvenienced and get caught in a traffic jam."

CM Mamata Ready to launch 'Clean Darjeeling, Green Darjeeling' project

Mamata Banerjee will attend two government events in Darjeeling in the next couple of days and return to Calcutta on August 27.

The chief minister, who arrived at Bagdogra airport on Monday afternoon, spoke briefly about her programmes in the hills.

"We want to carry out development in the hills in association with the GTA. Tomorrow, we will launch the 'Clean Darjeeling, Green Darjeeling' project and on August 26, we will hold a meeting of the Tribal Advisory Council (TAC) to discuss various projects aimed for improvement of tribal people dwelling in the state. On August 27, I will return to Calcutta," Mamata said at Bagdogra airport. (TT)

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