Bhutanese students in Darjeeling to be home tomorrow

Thirty Bhutanese students studying in Darjeeling, West Bengal will be escorted to Phuentsholing tomorrow.

The students, all boys are studying in Saint Joseph school from grade III to XII. They wrote their last exam paper yesterday.

Following the news of 64 Bhutanese college students being safely brought to Phuentsholing, some parents who have their children enrolled in Saint Joseph school called Kuensel yesterday to complain that relevant agencies had done nothing in bringing the school students from Darjeeling.

One parent, Sangay Dorji said that Darjeeling is the place where the real tension was.

“I have my son and a nephew at Saint Joseph school,” he said, adding that many parents called him to inquire about their children. “The education ministry should know about all these.”

Sangay Dorji claimed that the escort for 64 students was organised by the college and parents without assistance from the government.

Another parent, who has a son studying in grade V, requesting anonymity, said parents are worried.

“We are waiting for government intervention,” he said. “Our children are still stuck there.”

He also said that the government was not involved in the planned escort on June 23, adding that the school was doing more.

Kuensel also contacted Father Shajimon Rector of the school.

“All the boys are doing fine,” he said. “They finished their exams today.”

Father Shajimon Rector said the boys would be escorted until the safest ground possible on June 23. They will be reached until Phuentsholing.

A Bhutanese Dzongkha teacher at the school will guide the students, the Father said, adding the police would escort. The Rector said Bhutanese officials are in touch with them and sought for help.

Superintendent of police (SP) in Phuentsholing, Wangchukla said they are continuously working to bring the students back home safely.

“We are closely working with the Department of Law and Order (DLO), drungkhag office, and the counterparts,” he said.

An education officer and police personnel will also go to Darjeeling to get the students home.

The DLO, drungkhag office, and police have been in constant touch with the district magistrates of both Darjeeling and Kalimpong since the beginning of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha crises. As students complete their exams, they will be evacuated phase wise depending on the completion of their examinations.

With the West Bengal government blocking networks, officials also faced multiple challenges to get in touch and trace information.

On June 21, a total of 64 college students and a Bhutanese employee from Kalimpong were safely brought to Phuentsholing.

Although the crisis is still going on, there is no need to worry about the boys, Father Shajimon Rector said.

Officials from the school planning and coordination division with the school education department, education ministry is aware of the students and the escort.

The division chief, Phuntsho Wangdi said they are in touch with the DLO and the school authority.

“The 30 students will be escorted along with the college students tomorrow,” he said.

On the parents’ complains, he said that the parents did not inform them. He said their office had requested parents to register with the division while admitting children in schools in Darjeeling during the previous Gorkha Janmukti Morcha problem in the hills.

“But only few did that,” Phuntsho Wangdi said. “Without registration, it would be difficult for the education ministry to trace students.”

Even today, not a single student is registered with the division, the chief said, explaining that this culture of registering exists only with government-funded college students.

Phuntsho Wangdi said they are still trying to find out if there are any students in other schools and colleges in Darjeeling.

An official from the Department of Adult and Higher Education said there are eight students in Saint Joseph College and nine students at GC College in Kalimpong. These college students will finish their exams on June 28 and June 24 respectively.

The DLO along with the Phuentsholing drungkhag administration and the Royal Bhutan Police in Phuentsholing are constantly working in bringing the students safe back home.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing 

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