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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Nithyananda ashram case: Parents of DPS Ahmedabad East students threaten to go on hunger strike

While the parents demanded the state government to allow running the school from Class I till VIII at least for the current academic session, the state government was adamant on its decision, citing blatant violations of rules and non-cooperation by the school management.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: December 4, 2019 7:30:21 am
swamy nithyananda, nithyananda case, nithyananda ashram case, DPS ahmedabad, nithyananda case probe, Indian Express Parents of DPS East Ahmedabad students protest at Uttamnagar garden in Ahmedabad, a day after the state education department cancelled permission to run Classes I to VIII. Javed Raja

A day after the Gujarat Education Department cancelled permission to Delhi Public School, East Ahmedabad, to run Classes I to VIII, angered parents of over 850 students continued to stage protests demanding assurances from the state government on the future of their wards.

Parents who gathered at the school in Hirapur village on the outskirts of Ahmedabad early morning Tuesday, decided to stay put throughout the night outside the school. They announced that they will resort to an indefinite hunger strike if no decision is arrived at the earliest.

A decision is expected Wednesday after a team from the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) from Delhi, including its deputy secretary, Jaiprakash Chaturvedi (Admin and Legal), and a few officials from its regional office in Ajmer, reach Ahmedabad.

While the parents demanded the state government to allow running the school from Class I till VIII at least for the current academic session, the state government was adamant on its decision, citing blatant violations of rules and non-cooperation by the school management.

“We have urged the government to allow the school run till Class VIII but they are refusing to listen to us. Tomorrow morning, we are planning to meet Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama again and if required, will meet the Union Minister of Human Resource Development too. We are also seeking legal advice on appealing in the Gujarat High Court,” said Vikas Sood, one of the parents who claims is fighting for the right to education for 850 children.

Trouble began after it came to light that the school, without permission from the CBSE, leased out its land to the ashram of self-styled guru Nithyananda who is facing a case for allegedly keeping women in illegal confinement on the ashram premises.

On Sunday, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) withdrew its affiliation to the school citing that the school submitted a forged No-Objection Certificate and contradictory statements on leasing out land to Nithyananda ashram that recently ran into controversy over “illegal confinement” of women on its premises. On Monday, the State Education Department cancelled its permission to run the school for primary classes.

Nithyananda case: DPS Ahmedabad East loses govt permission to run classes I to VIII The premises of Nithyananda ashram in Hirapur village in Ahmedabad rural. (Express Photo)

Parents staged protests at several places, including outside DPS East Ahmedabad campus, Uttamnagar Garden in Maninagar, and District Education Office (DEO) in Vastrapur.

As parents prepared to sit on a dharna protesting outside the school along with their children in school uniform throughout the night, a six-year-old girl was seen carrying a poster saying, “Beti bachao beti padhao lekin beti padhe kaise”. Another girl of nearly the same age said, “We do not want to study in any other school but want this school to resume classes at the earliest.”

Meanwhile, the state government assured that no student’s future will be jeopardised and a decision would be taken soon. “The CBSE team is arriving today so we are hoping for a solution. They demanded to let the same school run which is not possible after taking into cognisance the unauthorised building and construction,” said Vinod Rao, Secretary Education.

Rao assured parents over phone that the department was ready to accommodate as many students as the parents wish to in DPS Bopal and also nearby schools and that no student will be at the receiving end. “I will ask the district education official to give this in writing,” he assured them when they demanded the same.

On denying permission to run school at the same campus, he told the parents on phone, “Now that we know that there were multiple irregularities from the school management, we cannot ignore that. The land is not in their name, the building has no fire safety approval, no construction permission. What if Surat-like (fire tragedy at coaching institute) incident happens.”

When asked about the parents’ demand to give these assurances in writing, Rao said, “How can we assure something in writing on behalf of so many agencies, including police, CBSE, district administration, revenue department and school’s other branch?”

On Monday, too, despite several rounds of meetings, school principal Hitesh Puri declined to give the assurances in writing.

Parents were seen questioning the state government authorities decision to cancel its permission overnight. “What was the state government doing for 10 years when the school was running?” they asked.

“We will continue to protest outside the school and if there is no decision on our children’s future, then we will sit on a hunger strike. Even children who hae been sitting outside since 8 in the morning will join us. What is their fault, why should they suffer?” said Vikas Sood.

To work out the modalities to accommodate students, a joint meeting of principals of both the schools — DPS East Ahmedabad and DPS Bopal had a meeting at the DEO on Tuesday.

Nithyananda case: DPS Ahmedabad East loses govt permission to run classes I to VIII Self-styled guru Nithyananda. (File Photo)

No water, food

Even as the CBSE de-affiliated the school and parents reached the school on Monday to get clarity on its status, they were denied entry into the school premises by the guards, even as their ward were to appear for their pre-boards. As the group of parents waited till late evening, the school did not even have facilities to provide them drinking water or food, as both the teaching and non-teaching staff stood guard at the principal’s office all day. Police force was also present on the campus.

Seeking bail

Former principal of DPS Ahmedabad East, Anita Dua, moved the Ahmedabad district court seeking anticipatory bail on Tuesday. Dua’s plea comes a day after Manjula Pooja Shroff, chief executive officer and managing director of Kalorex Group, which runs DPS Ahmedabad East, and Hiten Vasant, one of the trustees of DPS Ahmedabad East Kalorex Foundation, moved the Ahmedabad district court for anticipatory bail. All three pleas are expected to be heard Wednesday in the court of additional district judge TK Rana. An FIR filed by the Vivekanand Nagar police station charged the trio for alleged forgery of documents.

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