Police Avert Hostage Crisis In Bengal School, Disarm Gun-wielding Man- Apr 26
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Police avert hostage crisis in Bengal school, disarm gun-wielding man

By PTI Updated: Apr 26, 2023 8:28 pm
Police avert hostage crisis in Bengal school, disarm gun-wielding man
**EDS: BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE; TO GO WITH STORY** Malda: A gun-wielding man barges into a classroom of a high school, in West Bengal’s Malda district, Wednesday, April 26, 2023. (PTI Photo)(PTI04_26_2023_000215B)
MALDA (WEST BENGAL) — A gun-wielding man barged into a packed classroom at a high school in West Bengal’s Malda district on Wednesday afternoon, but was overpowered by police and arrested, officials said.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who was holding an administrative meeting in Kolkata at the time, came out to compliment the police for averting what is being seen as a potential school hostage crisis which could have turned ugly, akin to incidents of hostage shoot-outs in US educational campuses.

Panic gripped the students of Muchia Anchal Chandra Mohan High School at Old Malda, as the unidentified man brandished the gun and started yelling inside a classroom with nearly 35-40 students including girls, a senior police officer said.

“The man managed to enter the school and barge into the room where Class-8 students were seated. He was holding a gun and shouting at the students, allegedly threatening to kill them,” the officer told PTI.

Class teacher Pratibha Mahanta said the man who looked like a parent entered her classroom and brandishing a gun told her to sit in one corner and asked students to sit quitely before starting off with threats and complaints that the administration was not doing enough to trace his missing wife and child, who he claimed was a student of the school.

“I somehow managed to escape when he was busy shouting and alert other teachers,” Mahanta told newspersons.

Teachers who rushed towards the classroom said the man identified by locals as ‘Raju Vallabh’ kept shouting that he “would shoot if someone shoots him”.

The gun-man was however overpowered by bystanders and police personnel who had also rushed to the school on being informed that a hostage drama was unfolding, the officer said, adding, a pistol, two bottles containing some liquid and a knife were seized from his possession.

The bespectacled man claimed he acted in this way, as his son and wife have been missing since a year, and he wanted to exert pressure on the administration to take note of it.

Brandishing a piece of paper, he was heard complaining that his repeated letters and missing complaints about a missing wife and child to various officials including to the state secretariat had been ignored.

However, according to his neighbours the man in his mid-40s, is separated from his wife and his child lives with her.

Anxious guardians rushed to the school which has about 1,000 students and made a beeline outside the educational institution, even as classes were suspended following the incident, police said.

Malda Superintendent of Police Pradeep Yadav told newspersons “the situation has now been brought under control … we are investigating why and how the man entered the school and managed to get into a classroom.”

Lauding the police for disarming and arresting a man, Banerjee alleged that the entire matter may have been a plot.

“Case of the man brandishing a gun at Malda school may not be an act of lunacy,” the chief minister told a press conference at the state secretariat.

BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya reacting to the incident, criticised the state police and equated the averted hostage crisis to shooting incidents in the United States, where gunmen have shot dead school students during similar attempted hostage taking.

“The incident reflects the worsening law and order situation in the state. Such incidents are quite rampant in Europe and America. We have never witnessed such incidents here,” he said.

Educationist Pabitra Sarkar said the incident pointed to a deep rooted social malaise where an individual believes he can settle scores with society by an act which endangers children.

“We had never heard about such incidents happening here in Bengal in the past. Only read about these things happening in schools in America. That the concerned person chose such a path to address his grievances is a sad commentary of the social situation” Sarkar said. .

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By PTI Updated: Apr 26, 2023 8:28:35 pm
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