Unidentified criminals set fire to Bashi Government Primary School in Kalihati upazila of Tangail yesterday, following a dispute over the ownership of a portion of the school land.
Criminals yesterday torched Bashi Government Primary School in Elenga municipality of Tangail’s Kalihati over land dispute, locals said.
“Unidentified people set fire to the tin-roofed school, pouring petrol or diesel on it around 1:45am. Three classrooms with 90 benches, three tables and three blackboards were burnt before locals extinguished the fire an hour later,” said Jayeda Khatun, acting headmistress of the school, quoting locals.
No classes were held yesterday at the school, which has around 300 students. This incident caused panic among students and teachers, she added.
Freedom fighter Hasen Ali, former president of the school managing committee, alleged that a family of Bashi village, who had damaged properties of the school claiming that they owned a part of the land the school has been built on, might have torched the school.
Komol Basini, a local, donated nine decimals of land for the school in 1947. Since its establishment, the school had been running with the donation of the well-off families of the area, said locals.
The school was destroyed by a flood before the Liberation War. Several locals then rebuilt the school on the same place in 1972, and two of them donated seven more decimals of land for the school, they said.
But three sons — Julhas, Hasem and Kashem — of late Maha Haji, who bought other parts of Komol’s land, have been claiming that they own nine decimals of the school land, they said.
Though Komol sold his land to Maha leaving out the nine decimals of land, Maha’s three sons have been claiming its ownership and a case is pending with a court, said Abdul Jalil, incumbent president of the school managing committee.
Earlier, Maha’s sons tried to gain control of the land by constructing a tin-roofed structure, but the villagers removed it. They vandalised the school signboard twice, damaged the foundation stone of the under construction building and also felled trees of the school, he alleged.
Meantime, the school was nationalised in 2013, and a two-storey building was being constructed beside the school’s tin-roofed structure, locals said.
Nobody claiming ownership of the school land could be reached for comments.
Contacted, Shamsul Haque, Kalihati upazila primary education officer, said he visited the spot and asked the acting headmistress of the school to file a general diary with the local police station.
“Setting a school on fire is a very sad and despicable matter as the school is for children,” he said.
“I have already informed the Kalihati upazila nirbahi officer and the district primary education officer of the matter. Tougher action will be taken against the people responsible,” he added.
Mosharaf Hossain, officer-in-charge of Kalihati Police Station, said acting headmistress of the school has lodged a GD with the police station.
“A police team was sent to the spot for investigating the incident. Necessary steps will be taken after the investigation,” he added.