GUWAHATI, May 21: An over 130 years old girls’ school in Shillong was razed to the ground early today morning. The only saving grace was that the hostel was untouched, thereby saving the inmates from fatalities.
The Khasi Jaiñtia Presbyterian Girls Higher Secondary School founded in 1892, an institution much respected and cherished was gutted completely early Sunday morning.
It is run under the aegis of the Khasi Jaiñtia Presbyterian Church and is looked upon as one of the Church’s priceless assets and a worthwhile contributor to the betterment of society.
Unconfirmed reports from teams at ground zero attribute the blaze to a “possible short circuit from the office”, but the moot question is how there can be a short circuit when there was load shedding throughout the city? Power goes off at midnight sharp daily, and is restored at 5 am punctually.
According to eyewitnesses who arrived at the scene, the boarders residing in the adjacent boarding house narrowly escaped the flames and were immediately shifted to Community Hall Mission Compound.
The boarders under the leadership of teachers, church elders held prayers and sung hymns and after the fire was put out by fire tenders, were escorted back to the hostel.
A visibly concerned chief minister Conrad K Sangma reached the location early morning to conduct an inspection of the accident and extend the government’s solidarity and support to the school management, students and parents who are all reeling in shock and sorrow.
“It is very sad and painful to witness this, and I have come here to extend my solidarity and assure the school management and students that the government will leave no stone unturned to restore the school as soon as possible,” he told journalists.
Announcing Rs 1 Crore as aid from the CM’s Special Development Fund, Sangma said, “While we will not be able to restore it to its former glory since it is a very old structure, yet we will work together with the school authorities, the Church, and the community as a whole to ensure that studies are not impeded and hampered by this tragic incident. We will overcome.”
Cabinet colleague AL Hek of the BJP accompanied the CM along with Titosstarwell Chyne, Chief Executive Member of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council, officers and local community leaders as well as the school principal, teachers and school managing committee members.