Students and a teacher of Rajkiyakrit Madhya Vidyalaya on their Harmu campus in Ranchi on Wednesday. (Hardeep Singh)
A middle school in Harmu in the heart of capital Ranchi has become an easy target for eve-teasers in the absence of a security guard and despite a boundary wall.
More than 400 underprivileged children, 150 of them girls, study in Classes I to VIII at Rajkiyakrit Madhya Vidyalaya, which was founded way back in 1965. The campus sprawls on 15,225sqft. One double-storeyed and three single-storeyed buildings host classrooms and are surrounded by an eight-feet-high boundary wall.
The school has power connection, desks are available for seniors (Classes V to VIII) and there are separate toilets for boys and girls. But, there is no one to guard the campus. Also, a deserted road leads to the campus and that is where tease gangs mostly waylay students.
These rogues make such vulgar passes that the girls feel too embarrassed and scared to even convey them to teachers. Eight regular mentors and six para-teachers run the school, a strength that can barely pass muster as protective shield for children if hoodlums decide to invade campus.
A student of Class VIII said she managed to confide in her parents and ever since her father comes to drop and pick up her from school. “Pehle akele aa jate the. Par ganda ladka log ke chalte pitaji ko chodne aur lene aana padta hai. (Earlier, I use to come to school alone. Nowadays, my father comes along because I am scared of bad boys).”
School in-charge Nirmala Singh pointed out that the menace was not just restricted to eve-teasers, local toughies turned the premises into their haunt after class hours. “The school becomes a gambling den, complete with free flow of liquor. We have complained to the village education committee and also the local councillor. No one is paying heed. What can we do alone?” she said.
Councillor of Ward No. 37 Arun Kumar Jha, whose residence is a stone’s throw from the campus, admitted that a few students and teachers had met him on Tuesday evening with their grievances. “I tried calling district superintendent of education Jayant Kumar Mishra immediately, but he did not receive his calls. Now, I plan to visit Argora police station and seek help,” Jha said.
A policeman at Argora thana said that though no written complaint had been registered so far, they knew about the campus menace. “We will sort out the problem soon. It will be even better if someone can inform us about the presence of hoodlums at an appropriate time so that we can catch them red-handed. The eve-teasing problem will also be taken care of,” he said without categorically mentioning whether patrolling will be started in the area.
President of the Gram Siksha Samiti Gopal Soni too made promises that barely sounded concrete. “We have information on misuse of the campus and students being teased. People living near the school have been alerted. It is expected that very soon the school premises and approach road will be made safe,” he said.
A local resident, on the condition of anonymity, expressed doubts.
“The school is situated at the foot of a hillock where the drinking water and sanitation department has installed a tank. The area is sparsely populated and anti-social activities are rampant. A few days ago, a body was found in the water tank,” he said, indicating how unsafe the place itself was to host a cradle.
How can the middle school campus be made safe?