Eleven Govt schools torched in three hill districts
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 04: In an apparently well co-ordinated and clinically executed wanton acts of destruction, unidentified miscreants set eight Government schools including one Government aided institution in the three hill districts of Senapati, Chandel and Ukhrul from 11 pm to 1 am last night.

In Chandel district, the schools which have been set on fire are Chandel Maha Union High School, Liwa Chaning High School, Chakpikarong High School and Machi High School.

According to reports received today at about 1 pm, the last two named schools were still on fire.

Four schools were also set on fire at Senapati district by the miscreants.

The schools included Senapati High School (Govt aided), Sardar Patel HS, Maram Ashram HS and Mao-Maram Higher Secondary School.

Maha Union HS at Chandel dist seen from a distance at as the fire died down and the remains of the destruction

At Ukhrul district the miscreants struck at Model High School in the district headquarters, Somdal High School and at Phungyar High School.

The extent of damages suffered by these schools are yet to be worked out till the time of filing this report.

Miscreants also tried to set on fire four other schools but timely action prevented the fire from spreading.

The schools which were targeted but saved included Ukhrul Higher Secondary School, NK Kamjong High School, Kamjong High School and a school at Paomata and Purul in Senapati district.

Tight security has been deployed at Ukhrul Higher Secondary School from today morning.

As news of the arson reached the Govt, Chief Minister O Ibobi convened an emergency meeting with the Education Minister L Jayentakumar, Chief Secretary Jarnail Singh and Education Secretary to discus the matter.

Following the meeting, the Government has instructed all the DCs, SPs and ADCs to take up the necessary measures to ensure that the chain of attack on the schools is not repeated.

The district administrations have also been instructed to calculate the losses suffered in the acts of arson and submit a report by tomorrow.

When The Sangai Express contacted the Education Minister today, he said that following the emergency meeting with the Chief Minister, the DGP has been asked to take up necessary security measures.

The DGP has been asked to identify and book the culprits responsible for setting the schools on fire, added Jayentakumar.

To prevent such incidents from spreading further, efforts are on to tie up with all the MLAs, irrespective of party affiliations, said Jayentakumar.

"Since the Summer vacation is on, students are away from the schools.

However no efforts will be spared to ensure that the repairing work of the damaged schools are finalised before the end of the vacation," informed the Minister further.

Jayentakumar said that he along with TD Minister DD Thaisii from Karong AC, K Raina, independent MLA from Tadubi , MLA Thorii, MLA Dr Ratan and MLA E Dwijamani will proceed to Senapati district tomorrow to get a first hand account of the damages suffered by the schools. On being asked whether the Government is mulling over any legal action, the Minister said that as of now there is no definite stand on this point but added that a suo moto case may be taken up even if no formal complaints are filed.

The Minister added that the instructions given to the DGP to do the needful may be enough for the present.

Taking a serious note of the incidents, the Minister said that burning down schools and educational institutions is against the interest of the students and added that such acts should have no place in a civilised society.

Appealing to all to desist from such destructive acts, the Minister said that any differences can always be sorted out through talks and discussions and added that acts of destruction and violence can never bring any solution.

The Minister also urged the local people to resist the agenda of such elements and to help in protecting schools and educational institutions from being vandalised.

Significantly this is not the first time that schools in the hill districts have been systematically targeted.

Some time back, last year, a number of schools in the hill districts were damaged and vandalised against the backdrop of the demand raised to affiliate the schools located in the four districts of Senapati, Chandel, Tamenglong and Ukhrul to the Nagaland Board of School Education.

A number of books prescribed by the Board of Secondary Education, Manipur were also consigned to the flames during the agitation launched to demand the affiliation of these schools under the Board of the neighbouring State.

On the other hand, no schools were torched or attacked at Tamenglong district.

On being contacted the DC of the district said that the governing bodies of all the schools at Tamenglong have been asked to camp at their institutions during the night and alert the security force if anything amiss comes up.

Security measures have been taken up and mobile posts have been opened to deal with any emergency cases, said the DC and added that the people will extend their co-operation.