The West Bengal government has already closed down 125 schools run by the RSS in the state since 2017 and is planning to shut down around 370 more such schools in the coming days.
State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee on Tuesday told the Assembly that these schools did not follow the curriculum and are instead completely engaged in giving religious teaching along with 'lathi' training.
The education minister said, “We have thoroughly investigated each and every school. Many were run without taking no-objection certificates from the government. We have already closed down 125 schools and will possibly close the remaining schools as well. The process is still on.”
Chatterjee said that the West Bengal government would not allow lathi games inside educational institutions of the state.
“There is no way we could allow these schools to become radical,” the minister said.
The West Bengal BJP has responded furiously to the government's steps. Since the government's drive against RSS-backed schools began, the BJP has filed multiple petitions in courts against the closure notices; the courts have issued stay orders in several cases.
The BJP said it had already gone to the Calcutta High Court against the West Bengal government’s clampdown on schools run by the Vidya Vikash Parishad, a wing of the RSS. These schools are either named as Vivekananda Shishu Mandir or Saraswati Shishu Mandir. Such schools are located in seven border districts of West Bengal.
Biswapriya Roychowdhury, the vice president of the West Bengal BJP, slammed the Trinamool Congress and said the government was being 'thick-skinned' on the issue.
“This government is shameless. They don’t know that we went to the High Court against their decision and the court has already imposed a stay order. This government is wearing the skins of rhinos, so that they don’t respond even if they are touched,” said Roychowdhury.
Calling the action of the government contempt of court, Roychowdhury said, “We will move court against this and would urge the honourable court to issue contempt notice to the state government.”
Roychowdhury, himself a former RSS pracharak, said that none of the schools in West Bengal gives any radical teaching like the jihadi education allegedly given in many madrassas in West Bengal.
“Nor would you see arms training given in schools of West Bengal,” Roychowdhury said.
The RSS leadership said it would wait as the case was being heard by the court.
Asked about the training in using lathis in schools, the senior BJP leaders said that students are not only given lathi training, but they were also trained in Karate as well.
“In fact, in all West Bengal schools, there are physical education teachers who are supposed to give students all such defensive training. Unfortunately, they are kept idle in such schools. But in all these schools run by Vidya Vikash Parishad, such training is given, which is part of the physical education and is nothing unusual,” Roychowdhury said.
The West Bengal government’s education department refused to be drawn into the political wrangling.
A senior officer said, “No concrete steps have been taken yet. Inquiry is going on.”