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Court stays state notice to shut RSS-inspired Vidya Bharati schools in West Bengal


Calcutta high court has imposed an interim stay on the notice issued to a RSS-run school in North Dinajpur asking it to close down.

The district inspector of schools (DI) in his April 10 notice had asked the Sarada Sishu Tirtha School in Karandighi to close down forthwith and also charged a penalty of Rs 1 lakh from Sarad Seva Trust which runs the school. The DI served the notice on the grounds that the school didn’t have the requisite infrastructure — library and playground. The notice also mentioned that the school didn’t have the affiliation of the West Bengal Primary Education Board.

Calling it a “whimsical decision”, petitioner’s lawyer Loknath Chatterjee submitted to the court that the state’s decision to close down the school went against the right to free and compulsory education. “It is a politically motivated step by the government drawing indulgence from the ruling party,” Chatterjee said.

The government move came days after the Mamata Banerjee government put on notice 125 schools run by three private trusts perceived to be close to RSS-affiliates in early March. All these schools are mostly run by three trusts — Sarada Shishu Tirtha, Saraswati Shishu Mandir and Vivekanada Vidya Vikas Parishad — which proclaim themselves to be affiliated to the Lucknow-headquartered Vidya Bharati Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan. These organisations have a network of over 350 schools in Bengal, with a student strength of over 60,000.

State education minister Partha Chatterjee singled out 125 of these 350 schools citing a “list” handed over by the chief minister in her capacity as the state home minister.

State BJP president Dilip Ghosh had said in response that most of these schools follow the curriculum set by Vidya Bharati Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan. “They are mostly in remote places, providing education to more than 60,000. They have been running in Bengal since 1975 when the first Sharada Sishu Tirtha was set up in Siliguri. They mostly follow the state school syllabus with some additional impetus to develop the students’ physical, moral and spiritual values. This is an accepted practice in the country and also the state. I think they are sniffing politics everywhere. If they do anything legal we are prepared to battle it out,” Ghosh said after the government decision.

Justice Arijit Banerjee, on hearing the petition, directed the board and the government to file affidavits before he takes up the matter for hearing in mid-July.

Courtesy: Times of India