SFI's Eastern Jatha Arrives at Murshidabad, Rallies Against NEP
Beldanga (Murshidabad): “We will continue our fight against the new education policy (NEP) which is much ado over nothing and privatises and commercialises education, and puts the RSS-venom within the education system," said Md Abdul Momin, a 21 year old student of Beldanga SRF college. In this college, a student union other than that from the ruling Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP) is strictly prohibited.
It was Abdul Momin and hundreds of other students and their guardians who, on Friday, welcomed the Students' Federation of India (SFI) contingent who, as part of the North Eastern and Eastern Jatha, entered Murshidabad district after starting from Tripura, crossing over to Manipur, and then to Assam where they were stopped by the police.
In West Bengal, the Jatha was attacked at Alipurduar’s Falakata allegedly by the ruling party's activists. The jatha has so far crossed the districts of Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling South and North Dinajpur, before crossing over to Malda and finally entering Murshidabad district on Friday. Here, the Jatha attended its first big public rally at Beldanga, which was addressed by SFI's all India general secretary Mayukh Biswas, former all India general secretary Dr Sujan Chkaraborty and former SFI leader Jamir Mollah, among others.
Speaking to NewsClick about his experience of the Jatha, Mayukh Biswas said that in Farakka he had seen school properties being leased to commercial enterprises and to the ruling TMC to make party offices; in Dinajpur, schools attended by tribal students were being closed for want of teachers. In Jharkhand, which was covered by another eastern leg of the Jatha, schools were in a dismal state, Biswas claimed. "In Bihar the entire education system has gone into tuition mode, and the government schools do not have the libraries and laboratories," he said.
"In northern West Bengal the number of RSS run schools like Saraswati Vidya Mandirs are on the rise, where religious hatred is taught from a nascent stage. All thjs is happening in close cohabitation with the TMC, who by its policy and by its work on the ground level are buoying these type of educational institutes," Biswas alleged.
Subhojit Sarkar, a former student of the Presidency college of Kolkata who is leading the Eastern and North Eastern Jatha said, "It is amazing the way the students are coming forwards against corporatisation of education, and how the call of 'Save Education, Save Country' has been accepted widely among the common students of the state. We had our apprehensions but on the ground level we are now seeing that they (students in campuses) are even detailing the ramifications of corporatisation of education and the need to save education from the clutches of BJP better than the activists. Out of the 18 SFI activists who are part of the Jatha, majority of them have joined after 2019, and some even after 2021," he said.
"It is not for any gains that they joined the Jatha as many of them have joined SFI after the electoral debacle of the Left Front. Ideology is their only bastion for which they are taking part in this arduous march,” said Sarkar, talking to NewsClick.
Speaking in the Beldanga rally, former MP Dr Sujan Chakraborty lashed out at the BJP government at the Centre for its "divisive policies" and for trying to make the minority community as "second class citizens of the country".
"Education has been turned into a commodity, and both commercialisation and saffronisation of education are happening side by side," he said in the rally.
The rally was also addressed by noted advocate Sayan Banerjee.
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