The reclaimed playground of DAV-Dugda near Bokaro steel city on Thursday. Picture by Pankaj Singh
After seven weeks of protest, the playground of DAV School (Dugda) near Bokaro was rightfully restored to 2,000-plus students from a section of Mahto youths who had taken it hostage, warning children off their so-called ancestral land.
Bermo subdivision officer and magistrate Rahul Kumar Sinha in his court letter No. 231(K), dated March 26, said the ground of plot No. 1,089 belonged to Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL), which had leased it to the school.
Sinha, who went through land papers, said it was “gair majurua forestland belonging to the government on which no private party has claim to”.
The Bermo officer also declared the plot of land was leased to BCCL, which in turn had given it to the school, conclusively rejecting the claims of a section of the Mahto community led by a local leader Uttam Mahto.
Proclaiming closeness to JMM MLA Jagannath Mahto of Dumri, now the Giridih MP hopeful, Uttam and scores of youths laid stake to the playground early last month, installing a foundation stone ostensibly to honour India’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and JMM statehood leader Binod Behari Mahto.
Uttam and some others such as Mohan Mahto and Janki Mahto claimed the playground was the ancestral land of a section of “displaced Mahtos”.
Over the last few weeks, a series of tripartite talks among the Mahtos, the school administration and BCCL functionaries — called by Bokaro district administration — had failed.
Uttam, while not producing any papers to prove land ownership, only said they would leave the plot if Jagannathji ordered them to. But prodded on Sinha’s judgment on Thursday, the Dumri MLA categorically denied to The Telegraph that he was ever involved in the matter.
“Humko iss jameen se koi matlab habin hai. Hum chunawi karyakram mein lage hain. Hum kisi vivaad mein nahin padhna chahte. Kuch log jahan tahan mera naam drop kar dete hain (I have nothing to do with the matter. I’m busy with elections and don’t want any controversy. Some people drop my name anywhere),” said the beleaguered MLA, who along with his brother Baidyanath, is embroiled in bigger troubles such as the kangaroo court murder over a love marriage.
The Telegraph carried a series on reports on the playground under siege right from the time the Mahto youths grabbed the 1,200sqm plot, including the sports track. Bokaro administration led by DC Uma Shankar Singh swung into action soon after.
As a result, the Mahtos’ were anable to go ahead with their plan to host a mega Kurmi sammelan on the playground on March 23.
Lauding The Telegraph, school principal Ashutosh Kumar said: “Now, children can use their playground from the new academic session which begins next month.”
“In fact, children can play from today (Thursday) if they want to,” Bermo SDO Sinha said, adding the documents given by the BCCL proved beyond doubt that the playground belonged to the public sector coal company which gave land to the DAV school.
How can the school protect its playground in future?