Warzone echo in classrooms as bunkers linger

Sankhuwasabha, Dec 19:

At a time when calls to declare schools as peace zone are being voiced, students in eight schools of Sankhuwasabha district are forced to attend classes in bunkers constructed by the Maoists during the insurgency.

The bunkers were constructed by the Maoists as a refuge for them and to use students, teachers and locals as a cover during encounters with security personnel. But even after joining the government, the Maoists have not canned such bunkers. As a result, students remain forced to attend classes amidst a sense of insecurity.

Though some schools filled up the bunkers at their own cost, there still are eight bunkers in different schools in the district.

Simheswori Secondary School in Noom VDC in the northern part of the district, Jivan Jyoti Secondary School in Mangtewa, Simheswori Secondary School in Jaljala, Amaruwa Secondary School in Ankhibhui, Binod Secondary School in Madimulkharka, Kalika Secondary School in Sisuwa, Dharma Devi Secondary School in Matsyapokhari VDC, and a primary school at Mawadin still have such bunkers.

District coordinator of the All Nepal National Independent Students’ Union-Revolutionary (ANNISUR) Aer Bahadur Tamang said, “Some schools only have remains of bunkers. Eight schools still have bunkers. Various metallic objects can be found in these bunkers.”

Indra Mani Korangi, headmaster at Binod Secondary School, said the bunkers were used by Maoist cadres during the insurgency. “Harmful objects are still found there,” he added.

He also expressed his unhappiness at the government’s apathy on the issue. Different organisations in the district said the Maoists and other political parties were interrested in demolishing the bunkers.

“It is shameful that such bunkers exist on the premises of education institutions at a time when there are demands to declare educational institutions a peace zone,” Khadag Rai, district coordinator of Human Rights, Peace and Development Coordination Committee, said.

Chief District Officer Tulasi Prasad Gautam said efforts were on to deal with the issue. “We are consulting different political parties about this,” he added. Acting district education officer Dirgha Dhoj Chapagai said it would be difficult to destroy such bunkers in the lack of technological know-how.

The Maoists, however, have been claiming that they have not built any bunkers on the premises of schools. Maoist district committee member Dibya Baral said that such bunkers, if there were any, would be removed after reaching an understanding with concerned stakeholders.