If there is one thing that last month’s alleged rape incident got Khushnagri village in Chamba village, apart from infamy, it’s attention. The storm that the local government senior secondary school is currently in– it’s teacher allegedly raped a 15-year-old girl student (of school in town Tissa) that furthered communal tension — doesn’t have basic facilities despite being a “model school”. It is also entitled to funds from central government.
There are no classrooms for senior secondary students, which the school started admitting since it was “upgraded” in 2010. Classes are instead held out in the open, under the shade of a tree or a canopy when it rains. Often the school also does not get proper water supply and teachers have to arrange drinking water on their own, filling drums from nearby areas so that mid-day meal can be cooked. Even a principal is missing.
And now even the police is regularly patrolling the campus severely affecting the school environment. “We have only two teachers for class XI and XII. There are only five classrooms so class VI to X sit inside and rest outside. After eight teachers shifted recently, only four have been sent to replace them. So we are in a crisis. For how long can teachers qualified to teach classes VI to X be asked to teach higher classes? Due to this, even the lower classes are suffering,” said Rajdeen, the “officiating” principal. Adding to their problems, a few teachers from a certain community were threatened by certain people after the alleged rape incident came to light.
Refusing to continue at the school, they have been shifted to Tissa. With some 152 Muslim students and 90 Hindus, the school never witnessed any communal dispute even as ten of eleven teachers here were Hindus. But the problems have suddenly multiplied.
Rajdeen, who was the only Muslim teacher the day Hindu teachers were allegedly beaten on July 29 by a mob, has also given application for his transfer but it wasn’t accepted. “My colleagues who were Hindus were beaten up and it was wrong. I do not want to continue here too but my transfer application has not been accepted,” he said. The school was even closed by the administration seeing the tension till August 3 and reopened on August 4.
For class XI and XII, the school only offers arts (humanities) stream and in that too, there are no teachers for three of five subjects. Therefore, the school fails to retain class X students who either drop out, shift to Tissa school or other schools. Currently, there are only 17 students in senior secondary wing- 7 in class XI and 17 in class XII. Even as there were almost 45 students in class X last year, only seven continued at this school in class XI.
When The Indian Express team visited the school, a police team was in the school for probe and some students were sitting in open outside principal’s room. The students with books in their hands were sitting without a teacher as the meetings between principal and police went inside. There was no other place available for students to sit. Teachers admit that the rape case and communal clash has severely affected the studies as the school already grappled to function due to lack of teachers and classrooms.
“Despite being model school and upgrading announced in 2010, we have never got required funds to build more classrooms or purchase benches. Now, after the row, there are only five teachers left for 6 to 12 and only two of them are qualified to teach XI and XII. Students hardly study as police patrols the campus for entire day and visit for interrogations. Of 30 sanctioned posts of teachers, 25 are lying vacant. The innocent students have been the ultimate victim of this Hindu-Muslim row,” said a teacher. Deputy commissioner Chamba, Sudesh Mokhta said that once communal tension recedes, the school will be provided all the facilities and vacant posts of teachers will be filled.