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MLA rift in school row

The DAV-Dugda playground tussle between school authorities backed by the BCCL and Kurmi-Mahto villagers backed by Dumri MLA Jagannath Mahto of the JMM is fast showing its political colours.

So far, Kurmi-Mahtos are adamant that their foundation stone for a Sardar Patel-Binod Behari Mahto tribute on the school playground will stay put.

Dugda, a census town known for BCCL coal washeries, comes under Bermo Assembly constituency, the MLA of which is Congressman Rajendra Prasad Singh, now in the cabinet. But Bermo’s large Kurmi-Mahto population reposes its faith on Dumri MLA Jagannath Mahto. Both Mahto and Singh are allies in Ranchi due to the JMM-Congress-RJD coalition, but back in Bokaro, their political rivalry is well known.

The Kurmi-Mahto faction targeted the DAV campus since this January when Singh gave the premier CBSE school Rs 20 lakh for a boundary wall from his MLA development funds.

Tension between MLAs Mahto and Singh is likely to escalate as both are eyeing the Giridih Lok Sabha seat.

On Wednesday, Bermo SDO Rahul Kumar Sinha again announced a Thursday meeting between BCCL official and school chairman A.K. Ojha, Kurmi-Mahto leader Uttam Mahto and Chandrapura block circle officer Manoj Kumar at Dugda. But not much is likely to happen.

“Only our leader Jagannath Mahto can tell us to vacate the playground,” Kurmi leader Uttam Mahto said.

“Our MLA Jagannath babu is busy person so people should have patience. In the meantime, if people try to enter the grounds where we have laid the foundation stone and put the green flag, they will face dire consequences,” he told The Telegraph.

The Telegraph spoke to both MLAs Mahto and Singh separately on the DAV playground encroachment, but roughly got the same reply.

“I will speak to you later,” said Mahto at Chandankyari. “I will speak to you when I return from Delhi on Friday,” said Singh over phone.

An emotional school principal Ashutosh Kumar said he would plead to all powers-that-be for the “freedom of the school playground”.

“I will approach the governor, chief minister, Bokaro deputy commissioner, Bermo SDO and civil society. I will start a peaceful agitation,” he said.