Odisha train accident: School that stored bodies may be razed as kids refuse to return
The management committee of the school that was turned into a temporary morgue for the victims of the Balasore train tragedy has requested the government to demolish the building after superstitious students refused to attend classes. They have argued that the building is old anyway.
Not only that, for the time being, the management of Bahanaga High School plans to conduct some spiritual rituals to help students and parents overcome their fears.
Younger students are scared, admitted headmistress Pramila Swain, adding that some senior students and NCC cadets from the school, however, had even joined the rescue work.
Collector visits school
Balasore district collector Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde, who visited the school on Thursday (June 8) on the directions of the school and mass education department, confirmed that the school has demanded that the building be razed.
“I have met members of the school management committee, the headmistress, other staff members, and local people. They want to demolish the old building and renovate it so that children do have any fear or apprehension to attend classes,” Shinde said.
Soon after the triple train crash on June 2, which killed 288 passengers, shrouded bodies were carted into the 65-year-old school building. A school management committee member told Shinde that the children were affected by television footage of the bodies lying in the school building and were reluctant to come to school when it reopens on June 16.
The bodies have since been shifted to Bhubaneswar and the school campus has been sanitised and cleaned. But the students and guardians are in a state of panic.
Images haunt kids
“It is difficult to forget that so many bodies were kept in our school building,” said a student.
The school committee had initially allowed only three classrooms for the purpose. Later, the district administration used the open hall of the school to store the bodies for identification.
“Our children are refusing to go to school, and their mothers are not keen to send them either,” said Sujit Sahoo, a guardian.
Some parents are even considering taking their children out of Bahanaga High School and getting them admitted elsewhere.
Officials hold meet
The District Education Officer (DEO), Balasore, Bishnu Charan Sutar, held a meeting with the school committee and the alumni members on Wednesday to figure out ways to motivate the students and guardians so that they do not foster any negative thoughts.
“We will ensure that no student drops out of school due to this reason,” he said.
Stating that the school and the local people have immensely contributed to the rescue and relief operation during the train accident, the DEO said, “The people of Bahanaga are brave, which was proved during the incident.”
The district collector said he has asked the school committee to pass a resolution about their demand for the demolition of the structure and submit it to the government.
“The school building is old and often used for sheltering people during floods. Bahanaga is a flood-prone area. The school may be renovated under the ongoing transformation programme,” he said.
(With agency inputs)