KOLKATA: A recent directive by the Bengal government to construct dining rooms in every state-run school which has more than 70% of Muslim students has a triggered a fresh political row as the Oppositions described the move initiated by the Mamata Banerjee’s government as another example of minority appeasement.
The matter was brought into the public domain by the BJP’s West Bengal unit president Dilip Ghosh who took to Twitter to slam the government for its directive, calling it a move driven by “malafide motive”.
He uploaded a copy of an order issued by the District Officer of Minority Affairs of Cooch Behar dated June 25 to the district inspector of schools seeking details of facilities with more than 70 per cent minority students.
CPM MLA Sujan Chakrabarty criticised the circular saying students cannot be discriminated on the basis of religion.
Responding to criticism by the Opposition, the CM said the circular was an old one.
“This is an old circular which has already been withdrawn. I think some errant officer dredged out an old circular and issued it without the government’s knowledge,” she told journalists in her chamber in the state Assembly, which is in session.
Though she said she had no recollection of exactly when the circular was issued by the Minority Affairs and Madrasa Education Department and withdrawn.
“It was aimed at figuring out where the minority students were in large numbers so development funds could be channelised. It was not supposed to divide students. This was supposed to be for schools which don’t have dining halls, for schools where students have to eat in the open,” she said.
“The dining halls for mid-day meals will benefit all students, not only Muslims. The department is working to upgrade infrastructure of minority-dominated general institutions for development of all students,’’ said Giasuddin Mollah, minister of state for Minority Affairs.