Student Deaths in the Takshashila Fire Tragedy in Surat Mourned and Resented

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In a Press statement on 25 May 2019  , Comrade Ashok Mishra, General Secretary, AIDSO and  in a separate memorandum to the Chief Minister of Gujarat on the same date, Comrade Meenakshi Joshi, Secretary, Gujarat State Organizing Committee, SUCI (C), expressed deep anguish over the loss of life of 21 students in the horrible fire tragedy at the Takshashila Coaching Centre in Surat  some of whom died in their frantic bid to escape the fire by jumping from the high rise,  while many were seriously injured. They strongly condemned the inhuman condition at the coaching centre. It was brought to attention, that this was an inevitable outcome of unbridled privatisation-commercialisation of education which is not only affecting the quality of education but is giving birth to the recent extreme spurt in tuition classes throughout the state, despite a ban on these and despite occasional face-saving measures like inspection. The rat race for competitive examinations, entrance tests, summer vacation guidance, etc has made the tuition classes a very profitable business. In all major cities of the state there are hundreds of tuition classes going on. Most of the premises do not comply with fire-safety norms. In consequence, fire tragedies keep recurring: three in the last 6 months and eleven such incidents taking a toll of 27 lives in the last 2 years in Surat alone, which point to the alarming situation in so-called ‘vibrant Gujarat’. The Black Day at Takshashila Centre when 21 innocent lives were snuffed out is a sort of culmination. It exposed the fact that even the state Fire Brigade does not have any safety nets. A few of the students jumping in panic from the top floor could be saved only by the brave citizens of the city.  In the Press statement and memorandum, referred to above,  in addition to expressing condolence, calls were issued to build up mighty student-cum-people’s movement on demands  to ensure free treatment for the injured, 25 lakh rupees of compensation to the bereaved families of deceased students, compulsory fire safety norms for buildings, removal of  all illegal constructions, registering FIR against all officers engaged in fire safety auditing, stringent punishment to the culprits  and  putting a stop  to  the menace of  commercialisation- privatisation to  enhance quality of education.      

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