| Students of different schools living in and around the Bhagwat Nagar area take part in the protest against the demolition order in Patna on Thursday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Abhishek did not go to Kidzee at Kankerbagh on Thursday. Instead, the five-year-old joined his mother in a protest to save his home.
Asked what he was doing there, his infant mouth barely formed the words: “My home…”
Meet the city’s very own child-soldiers, minus the firepower of Kalashnikov-slinging kids of Sierra Leone. Armed with placards and banners, the children of Bhagwat Nagar on Thursday joined their parents and neighbours in protest against the Supreme Court’s order to demolish their homes. Many of them skipped school, claiming that education could wait when their homes were at stake.
Anshu, a Class VIII student of New Era High School at Kankerbagh, is one of them. She betrayed no agitation while walking with her father, Surendra Singh, to the protest site where agitators set fire to a car on Wednesday.
“Where will I live if my house is brought down?” she asked.
Surendra, whose house is also on the list of tenements to be demolished, said: “Her school is open. But she is also scared of losing her home. I have brought her here to join me in the protest.”
At the focus of the agitation are the house constructed illegally on 22.1 acres at Bhagwat Nagar in Kankerbagh. On September 12, the Supreme Court had directed the district administration to demolish 50 structures within six weeks. But when the authorities turned up at the locality on Wednesday with a police force to evict the residents, they encountered a stiff protest.
On Thursday, the protest continued. While the tension in the air was palpable, some enjoyed the unscheduled break from books. Rishabh, 12, a Class VIII student of Litera Valley School, which is also in the list of illegal structures, said: “I am happy there are no classes but I love my school. I don’t want anybody to break it,” he said.
His father Vijay Kumar Sahay is very disturbed. “Saroj Kant Tripathy, the president of Adarsh, Bhagwat and Jai Prakash Nagar Makaan Bachao Sangharsh Morcha (the organisation spearheading the protest) told us that the administration was thinking about roping in more forces to evict us. Our children and we will fight. We will not let our homes be demolished,” Sahay said.