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Parents, cops in street fight

- DAV teachers, guardians in war of words

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 24: Twelve parents, all members of the DAV Public School Unit-VIII Parents’ Association, were detained after a scuffle with cops today.

The parents were staging a protest over teachers’ decision to shun classes from today.

They were later released on personal bond. The protests come in the wake of an alleged assault on the principal of DAV-CDA, Cuttack, following which all 42 DAV schools have been shut down for an indefinite period. This has affected more than 30,000 students. Parents and teachers have been on a collision course over the contentious issue of fee hike.

The police said the parents were squatting on the road connecting CRP Square with Power House Square and Gopabandhu Square. “When we asked them to clear the road, they started arguing with us. We had to force them off the road because they were creating a traffic jam,” said inspector in charge of Capital police station Aseem Panda.

The cops also said that the parents harassed some commuters. In the scuffle, three agitators and two policemen suffered minor injuries.

Three members of the parents’ association, who were arrested today, have filed a petition before the National Human Rights Commission, requesting intervention regarding the “illegal” fee hike.

“It was wrong of the authorities to issue a notice for collection of enhanced fees since the matter is pending before the Supreme Court. Now, teachers have boycotted classes which will have an adverse impact on students, who have their CBSE exams from March 1,” said Sarojini Parija, a parent.

School authorities, on the other hand, have refused to budge from their stand. “We will not join classes until action is taken against those who physically assaulted the woman principal for four hours in a closed room and vandalised school property. Police officials who did not respond to our call for help must also be taken to task,” said principal of DAV-Pokhariput Sujata.

The teachers alleged that a mob of 100 to 150 people, including a dozen women, forcibly entered the DAV-CDA, Cuttack, compound on Tuesday morning and damaged four cars and CCTV cameras. “They hurled abuse at principal Ipsita Das, spitting on her and flinging mud at her. The parents made her write a notice, withdrawing the decision to collect fees at revised rates,” said DAV Unit-VIII principal Bhagyabati Nayak.

The incident triggered widespread protests among teachers of several English medium schools in the twin cities. The victim has lodged an FIR with the local police station and filed an application with the Chief Justice of Orissa High Court.

However, members of the DAV-CDA Parents’ Association denied allegations of any attack on the principal. “No parent or guardian was involved in the incident. This is a concocted story to divert attention from the illegal fee hike by the DAV management,” said Aptakam Mishra, secretary of the parents’ association.

“The annual exams are barely 20 days away. We request the state government to intervene in this matter so that schools can reopen. They must also take action against the school authorities for effecting a three-fold hike in fees without waiting for the Supreme Court’s judgment,” said Mishra.

The hike ranges from Rs 900 to Rs 1,200 per month and the apex court is expected to hear the case on February 11.

Principal of DAV-Chandrasekharpur K.C. Satpathy said the fee hike issue was not sub-judice. “We requested parents to pay enhanced fees with retrospective effect from June 2012 as per the direction of the DAV Managing Committee, New Delhi,” he said.