Inside a temple courtyard at the Red Fort parking lot, constable Than Singh (32) takes time out from his duty hours to teach children living in the slums near the monument. Singh is posted at Kotwali police station in Chandni Chowk and is the area’s beat constable. “Being in class stops them from getting into any kind of trouble outside,” he said Tuesday before his 5 pm class.
On Tuesday, Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava met Singh and lauded his efforts.
At the class of 20 were students aged between 4 and 18 years, whose parents work as migrant labourers or at Lal Qila as labourers or gardeners. “We have disinfected the carpets and sanitised the hands of each child. We also ensure they wear masks,” said Singh, adding that classes resumed a week ago.
When he first began taking classes in 2016, Singh had only a handful of students. “I had to persuade parents to send their children. But eventually, around 50 kids would come regularly — the number has gone down since the lockdown,” he said.
At times, Class XII student Ankita Sharma (16), who lives nearby, helps with the class. “If I get a call and need to rush, Ankita takes over,” he said. Her brother Ankit (18), also in Class XII, was present on Tuesday, helping children with their doubts.
At the class, Singh made the children recite the alphabet and multiplication tables, periodically checking their notebooks.
Students are enrolled in schools either at their villages or in Delhi. Due to the migratory nature of their families, their studies often get interrupted.
Mahesh (18), who is in Class IX and hails from MP’s Damoh district, said: “I am enrolled in a school in the village, but there is hardly any learning there.” He and his parents, who work as labourers, returned recently.
Right after the lockdown, Dharam Das (32), a gardener working at Lal Qila, left with his wife and three children aged below 9 years on foot to Tikamgarh in MP. They returned a few months ago. “I want my daughter Rashmi (8) to learn something, get some education,” he said, as he watched her recite tables.
Singh said there are talks to tie up the classes with YUVA, a joint initiative of Delhi Police and Skill Development Ministry to provide training to marginalised youth.
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