Sujata Chakma (not her real name), who is a fifth grader at Baghaichhari Government Primary School 2, was scared to see armed military officials and vehicles on her way to school.
Her parents said the way to school, situated in Dighinala upazila of Khagrachhari, was entirely blocked by fence.
Most of the students are scared to come to school and attend classes seeing members of 51 Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) battalion and the fence on the way, said headmaster of the school Achintya Bikash Chakma.
“The school has 105 students and three teachers. 41 students receive government stipend,” he said.
Established in 1967, the school is one of the oldest schools in the upazila and was nationalised in 1973 and reformed in 2009-2010, Achintya said.
“The area is surrounded by fence. Sometimes only two to three students show up but there are times when not even a single student attends classes. There are only two ways to reach the school. One is taken by BGB vehicles while the other is always inaccessible to students because of the presence of BGB men. The students thus find it scary to take either of the roads,” he added.
Recalling the June 10 clash, the headmaster said: “It erupted between law enforcers and indigenous people but had a haunting impact on students. They were, and still are, scared which is why attendance has dropped.”
“We are now displaced from our land and took shelter at Babuchhara High School as we have no place to live. How can our children attend classes as we could not even bring our belongings with us?” said Mrinal Kanti Chakma, father of a student at Baghaichhari Government Primary School 2.
“I could not bring my books, clothes and other necessary stuff. I do not know when I can get back to school,” said a female student of the school.
Mrinal said: “14 students, along with their families, of Baghaichhari school have taken shelter at Babuchhara school as they have been displaced from their land.”
The government allocated 29.81 acres of land to BGB on May 15, but Baghaichhari school is situated on two acres within that land, according to Khagrachhari district administration officials. The BGB battalion acquired the land on June 10 and built fence around the entire area.
Khagrachhari Deputy Commissioner Masud Karim told the Dhaka Tribune: “Actually, I do not think it is a big problem. If students can attend Bir Shreshtha Noor Mohammad Public College situated inside BGB headquarters in Dhaka then why should that be a problem here?”
“It is, however, unacceptable that a school area will be surrounded by fence. We had a meeting with BGB officials and instructed them to remove the fence,” he said.
Deputy Commander of 51 BGB battalion Major Kamal Uddin, however, said their presence was not an obstacle to going to school for any student, adding: “The school is open for all and students can attend classes. We do not create any hindrance.”
This story was published at Dhaka Tribune
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