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After missing classes for about a fortnight, children from Paharpur and its adjoining villages in Bareilly’s Ghatgao gram panchayat have started going to school again. This time, however, under heavy security cover provided by the local police.
The students, who had to cross a 50-metre river stretch every day to reach school, had stopped going to school in July.
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On July 20, villagers of Thakur-dominated Paharpur had beaten up boys of neighbouring Tanda village — a Muslim stronghold — for allegedly harassing the girls while they crossed the river every day on boat. As the girls stopped going to school, five boys from Tanda were arrested on July 23 on the basis of an FIR lodged by the girls’ parents. However, all the children of Paharpur stopped going to school. They feared being attacked while either crossing the river or Tanda village on way to Lajpat Rai Inter College in Shergarh town.
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The girl students had been demanding security while travelling to school and also the withdrawal of complaint lodged against their parents for beating up the boys from Tanda village.
Now, the police have decided to provide them security “for the time being to instill confidence”. It, however, will not withdraw the complaint against their parents. Meanwhile, the Bareilly district administration has sent a proposal to the state government for the construction of a bridge over the river — worth Rs 3 crore.
“A survey has been conducted. We have submitted a proposal to the principal secretary (PWD),” said District Magistrate Gaurav Dayal.
Asked about the villagers demanding that an intermediate school be built in Paharpur’s side of the river, Dayal said: “The District Inspector of School has sent a proposal to construct a intermediate school under Multi-Sectoral Development Scheme. But we are looking into other options as well.”
While a large number of girls have started going to school from Wednesday, locals said some parents are still not convinced about sending their daughters — who study in senior classes — to school. These students have been told to complete their studies from home for the time being.
“At first, a few children, mainly of junior classes, went to the school on Monday. We have already missed around 15 days of school. Two days later, a large number of children, including girls from senior classes, started going to school today,” said Preeti Singh, elder sister of Roshini — a student of Class XII.
“Some parents are still hesitant fearing attack on their children. But at present, the police are providing security to us,” said a parent.
Shergarh Station House Officer R S Yadav said, “While there is no threat to these children, we are giving them security while crossing river and Tanda village while travelling to and returning from the school.” Asked how many policemen have been deployed to provide security to the girls, he said: “A minimum of two have been deployed. Later, it will be increased depending on the strength of the police force.”
Tej Pal, pradhan of Paharpur, said: “District administration and police officials have visited us and promised that it is their responsibility to take girls safely to school till the bridge is constructed. They have also told us that proposal to construct bridge has been sent to the government. Thus, most parents have started sending their children.”