Patna, Aug. 25: Bend it like Dawood Ali to deny classes to kids.
The new-age mantra — taking a leaf out of the RJD book — chanted by the JD(U) MLA left 1,200 students of a high school in Dumraon to enjoy a day’s off, an unofficial one, last Thursday. Parents of 12 students — just 1 per cent of the total strength who showed enough courage — were quite anxious as the school was turned into a political arena with posters and flags adorning its building and campus.
In the gross violation of rules, Buxar district education officer (DEO) Nitish Chandra Mandal forwarded a letter of request from Dawood to Dumraon Raj High School headmaster Raj Mohan Prasad so that a workers’ meet could be held at the school.
The headmaster, who joined the school on August 18, the day Dawood sent the letter to Mandal, said: “I just followed the DEO’s order. I know that political function cannot take place at an educational institution but I had no other option but to follow the order.”
During the heydays of the RJD, schools in the state used to be hub of political programmes.
However, a new rule formed by the state government last year, states that political parties cannot organise any programme at a school. Interestingly, the Nitish Kumar government had denied the BJP to organise a political function at Patna’s Miller School ground in June this year when party president Rajnath Singh had to address a meeting. That time the education department had cited the rule. Though Nitish’s intervention in the matter made the education department relax its rule, the BJP had arranged the meeting at another ground and decided to go ahead with its changed venue.
In Dumraon, around 100km west of Patna, the education department official did intervene but only to change the timing of the school.
On Thursday, the school management changed the class hours from 6am to 9am from the usual 9.30am to 4pm. The JD(U) workers’ meeting lasted for six hours from 10am to 3pm attended by agriculture minister Narendra Singh, Rajya Sabha MP Ali Anwar and Rajpur MLA Santosh Kumar Nirala besides Dawood and others.
However, very few parents sent their children to the school early in the morning as it was all decked with party posters and flags.
“I did not want to invite any trouble for my son when there is a political function. I have failed to understand how the school management allowed such a programme at the school premises and how did they change the school timing suddenly? The government is using its machinery for vested interest,” said Vishwa Vijay, the father of Vishwa Vikas, a Class X student of Dumraon Raj High School.
Sindu Devi, the mother of Vivekanand, a Class IX student, said: “These politicians are just playing with the future of students. How can they organise a political function at the school? They should have chosen some other place to hold their meetings.”
But Dawood justified his act: “The classes were not affected at all. Our party believes in following rules and regulation. I do not think we have violated any rules. On Thursday, it was morning classes and we started our function after 10am when the classes got over. I know the rule but it can bend in special cases. In fact, I paid Rs 1,000 to the school management for using their space.”
The sports ground of the school was filled with at least 50 vehicles and around 600 workers had gathered to take part in it.
Preferring anonymity, an official of the secondary education department said: “According to the rules, implemented last year, political functions cannot take place at educational institutes. But I do not want myself to be dragged into this matter. The school belongs to the government. The department belongs to the ruling party and I am just a small pawn. I do not want to lose my job, let them do whatever they want.”
The JD(U) state president, Bashishtha Narayan Singh, accepted that it was violation of the rule. “It was wrong. I will seek explanation from the local MLA that what made him to organise a party function in an education institute, that too in a government school.”
Repeated attempts to contact education department minister P.K. Shahi, education department principal secretary Amarjeet Sinha and DEO Mandal turned futile.