Demolition of the Bahanaga High School building in Balasore district began today in the presence of school managing committee.
On Thursday, Balasore district collector Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde had visited the school and said it would be demolished if the school managing committee submits a resolution. The committee accordingly submitted the resolution following which the demolition started. It had earlier members met with District Collector Shinde and discussed virtually with Odisha chief secretary PK Jena the reluctance of the students to attend classes in the school where bodies of the victims of the June 2 mishap were kept.
Students of the 65-year-old educational institution said they were scared to return to the school. Speaking to ANI, a student of the school said, "After the horrific train accident, our school was full of bodies. We just cannot forget the scary pictures of those bodies scattered all over our school premises. Almost all the bodies were headless and limbless. Even entrails were visible. Maybe our minds will calm down after sanitization, puja-hawan and painting the school building."
The school which had a strength of 567 students had six classrooms filled with bodies after the June 2 incident involving three trains- the Chennai-bound Coromandel Express, the Howrah-bound Shalimar Express and a goods train, which left 288 people dead. The incident took place about 100 metres from the Bahanaga High School.
A Class 8 student at the school said, "I feel scared about going back to the school. There were body parts lying on the floor. My younger brother and sister feel scared as well."
Another student said, "Those who are younger to me and the girls will feel scared. If the school is sanitised and painted it would be better for us."
Smruti Rekha Panda, a teacher of the school said that rituals like a havan, according to Hindu traditions should be performed at the school to ward off evil spirits, as per popular belief.
"We have requested the authorities to organise a havan at the school so that people come back to the school and are not frightened," she said.
Panda said that students are being motivated at present to come to school but there is a state of fear in their minds. "We are trying to reassure them those were dead bodies and nothing will happen to them. However, students fear coming here as they believe it is haunted," the teacher said
Panda also requested the State government as well as the central government to do some major alterations to the space so that students get the confidence to come back.
Padmaloch Malik, a teacher at the school said, "The prayer hall and the dining hall will be demolished and constructed again. Parents and children were objecting to the fact that bodies were kept in those rooms. Yesterday, the District Magistrate visited the school. All this is superstition. The new building will be constructed in four to five months time by demolishing the rooms in which the bodies were kept. Till then children will be taught by making temporary arrangements," he said.
Ashish Kumar Sahu, another teacher said, "The Odisha Chief Secretary had a virtual meeting with the students, teachers, school principal and district collector. There the students said that if the building is painted and some parts of it demolished and newly constructed they can come back to school."