May 18, 2016 3:51:40 am
The Udhampur district administration has ordered a probe into the suspected involvement of teachers, political workers, panches and sarpanches in a protest by schoolchildren in Basantgarh subdivision last week.
Students of some eight schools in Khaned and Panara villages boycotted classes for almost a week, and marched 15 km to Basantgarh town to protest against shortage of teachers and erratic supply of drinking water at their institutions. Joined by local villagers, they blocked the road, disrupting traffic and forcing a shutdown in the town.
The students lifted the dharna on Monday after an assurance from the Basantgarh subdivisional magistrate (SDM) that their grievances would be addressed in two days.
The role of outsiders in the students’ protest was first indicated in intelligence reports, said Udhampur Deputy Commissioner Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary. This was later substantiated in separate reports submitted by the Basantgarh SDM, Chief Education Officer and Executive Engineer of the Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department, Choudhary said, adding that this “necessitated a high-level probe to fix responsibility”.
The inquiry will be conducted by the Additional Deputy Commissioner, who is also the District Vigilance Officer. He will be assisted by the Deputy Superintendent of Police (Headquarters).
Choudhary said that according to the CEO’s report, there were 39 teachers against the sanctioned strength of 55 teachers in eight schools in the area, putting the teacher-student ratio at 1:26. The Executive Engineer also reported sufficient drinking water in seven of the eight schools. The remaining school had recently shifted to a new building, he pointed out.
The SDM’s report said that the administration’s action against mass copying and teacher absenteeism had upset some officials and locals. “The results of the Government Higher Secondary School, Khaned, remained between 70-80 per cent for many years. In this session, only one student passed out of 102 after strict vigilance by the district administration through special squads. This led to a lot of discontent,” the SDM reported.
The report “further indicted Master Mohammad Farooq for instigating the strike upon his transfer to Government High School, Rai Chak, as he was reportedly a major conduit in the copying nexus”.
Choudhary said that some political workers also exploited the situation for fixing scores with rivals ahead of panchayat elections. The names of some retired and serving teachers, members of panchayati institutions and PHE officials surfaced in the preliminary inquiry, he added.
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