Three primary school teachers in Gujarat’s Chhota Udepur district are on the run after being booked in a Prohibition case on Saturday, following viral videos that purportedly showed them in an inebriated state, partying inside a classroom of the Gunder primary school in Sankheda.
The FIR, based on the complaint of the Taluka Education Officer, refers to the alleged incident as ‘Kaifi pina tatha, masaharni mejbani nu ayojan kari, masaharni mehfil’ (Consumption of alcohol and a spread of non-vegetarian dishes) –– a term that finds mention in the FIR five times.
Two of the three teachers are the Head and Deputy Head Teacher of the Gunder primary school, while the third is attached to another primary school in Ajitpura in Vadodara district.
The incident took place on October 15, when the teachers were allegedly partying inside the school from 6pm to midnight, the FIR states. Local villagers, who raided the premises after midnight, filmed videos of the room where the teachers were found with several empty bottles of alcohol and a vessel filled with an ‘egg pulav’ preparation. In the videos, the villagers are seen checking the rice vessel with a spatula and heard concluding that it is “only egg pulav”. They also find a plastic bag with broken egg shells and other items used to prepare the dish.
The video, education department officials said, went viral on October 16, after which, the District Development Officer (DDO) ordered an inquiry. A team of officials of the district education department visited the school the same day and found the Head and Deputy Head Teachers on the premises, while the teacher from Vadodara had left.
The FIR registered at the Sankheda police station on October 17, under various sections of the prohibition Act based on a complaint filed by Jignesh Vankar, the incharge taluka officer, states that it “appears that the three teachers were living inside the premises of the primary school”, which has been closed since the Covid-19 lockdown.
The FIR states that apart from bedding items, the education department teams also found utensils and kitchen items “needed for a stay”.
“We also found a bottle of foreign brand of whiskey in the chamber of the head teacher, which contained about 150ml of alcohol,” Vankar has said in the FIR.
Vankar said in the FIR that the district education department decided to pursue a case against the three teachers because “the criminal act is against the expected conduct of a teacher and it is extremely damaging to the reputation of an educational institute”.
While the two teachers attached to Gunder primary school have been suspended, Vadodara Distict Primary Education Officer Archana Chaudhary said action is yet to be initiated against the teacher from Ajitpura school, as the department “has not received any official communication from the administration of Chhota Udepur or the police”.
Police said the three teachers are on the run since Saturday.
A Gunder villager said the locals had been watching the teachers misusing their access to the premises for several weeks. “A few weeks ago, they had another party in which more people were involved and we could hear their drunken riot. They had also cooked non-vegetarian dishes. But we could not catch them. So we decided to keep a watch on their next gathering and expose them red-handed. This is unbecoming of a teacher,” the villager said.
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