In August, 2018 — 42 years after Qaumi Senior Secondary School was razed to the ground during the Emergency — the Delhi High Court had ordered the Delhi Development Authority to give 4,000 square metres of land for construction of an Urdu medium school for its students. On Saturday, Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia alleged that former Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash had decided to reduce this to 1,600 square metres, with support of DDA members.
On August 27, a High Court bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao had asked the DDA to complete all formalities with regard to the land in three months, and give possession to the Delhi government. It had asked that the government and various agencies cooperate for the development of a top-class Urdu medium school at the site of a vacated abattoir, which had earlier been earmarked for a parking lot.
On Saturday, Sisodia alleged that on September 12, Prakash convened a meeting without informing him, and that it was decided to reduce the size of the school to 1,600 square metres. “They did so stating that 1,600 square metres is sufficient in accordance with CBSE’s affiliation rules. They said children studying in classes XI and XII can be moved to other schools. However, that is irrelevant as according to the 2021 Delhi Master Plan, 4,000 square metres is the minimum area to set up a school — which was promised at the HC for a senior secondary school,” alleged Sisodia.
He further alleged that the matter was discussed in two DDA meetings — one in September and one on Friday — and that BJP members of the DDA supported “commercial use” of the land.
Respite after decades, but only short-lived
The Qaumi Senior Secondary School used to operate from a five-storey building in Sarai Khalil, demolished in 1976 during the Emergency. Since then, it has been operating out of rooms separated by tin sheets in a Shahi Dargah in Quresh Nagar, with classes beginning from the primary section and going up to Class XII. The management’s struggle to rebuild the school received relief in September 2017 when the HC asked that the possibility of allotting land to the school be explored. Now, the fate of the project hangs in the balance again.
When contacted, Delhi Leader of Opposition and DDA member Vijender Gupta said, “AAP gives everything a political colour. The area in question is extremely congested. It is completely commercialised and parking is a matter of highest priority… It is not possible to comment on this issue as the facts are not before us, but school, parking, everything can be worked out in the space. Anyway, the Delhi government has so much land for constructing schools and does not do so.”
Firoz Bhakt, in response to whose petition the HC had passed its order, said he has no option but to move court once again. “This is unethical and illegal. The three-month period given by the court has lapsed and the land grant has not moved forward. Instead of reducing, they should have been considering alloting more land so a playground can be developed for the school.”