KOLKATA: The Bengal government on Wednesday put on notice 125 schools, run by three private trusts perceived to be close to RSS affiliates, for “fanning religious intolerance” and “deviating from the state-mandated syllabus”.

All these 125 schools are run mostly by three trusts, Sarada Shishu Tirtha, Saraswati Shishu Mandir and Vivekanada Vidya Vikas Parishad, which proclaim themselves to be affiliated to the Lucknow-headquartered Vidya Bharati Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan. These organisations have a network of over 350 schools in Bengal, with a student strength of over 60,000.

State education minister Partha Chatterjee singled out 125 of these 350 schools citing a “list” handed over by chief minister Mamata Banerjee, in her capacity as the state home minister.

“We have asked these 125 schools to explain why they have deviated from the state curriculum. We have decided to withdraw their affiliation and will shut them down if there is no satisfactory explanation,” he said.

There is a great deal of ambiguity about the status of the other 225 schools, many of wh-ich teach only up to Class VIII.

State BJP president Dilip Ghosh said 350-odd schools in the state are run by Vivekananda Vidyabikas Parishad, a registered body, and follow the curriculum set by Vidya Bharati Akhil Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan. “They are mostly in remote places, providing education to more than 60,000. They have been running in Bengal since 1975 when the first Sharada Sishu Tirtha was set up in Siliguri. They mostly follow the state school syllabus with some additional impetus to develop the student’s physical, moral and spiritual values. This is an accepted practice in the country and also the state. I think they are sniffing politics everywhere. If they do anything legal we are prepared to battle it out,” Ghosh said.

Minister Chatterjee said the state was examining the 125 identified schools and would revoke their NOCs if needed. “We will not allow spreading religious intolerance in the name of teaching students,” he said. Of the 125 schools, 96 run without NOC. While 10 are affiliated to the state board, 19 have provisional NOCs. Chatterjee said many of the private schools get affiliation from central boards and take NOCs from the state, making it difficult to act against them.

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