Bamboo poles mark preparations for Kurmi Sammelan at DAV School-Dugda in Bokaro. Picture by Pankaj Singh
A fresh controversy has arisen over DAV-Dugda’s playground with the school principal lodging a police complaint and knocking on the doors of Bokaro deputy commissioner after the Kurmi-Mahto community decision to host a conclave at the disputed ground in yet another show of political clout.
The Kurmi-Mahtos, who claimed ownership of the land as ancestral property, laid a foundation stone in memory of the nation’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and JMM statehood leader Binod Behari Mahto at the playground last month.
Now, they are gearing up to host Kurmi Sammelan on March 23.
The campus of the premier CBSE school near Bokaro was abuzz with activity since early Tuesday as the Kurmi-Mahto residents brought in bamboo for building a massive shamiana. When one of the school employees objected, he was apparently abused and told to never challenge the Kurmis if he wanted to stay and work in the area.
The community, which enjoys the backing of JMM strongman and Dumri MLA Jagannath Mahto, is also distributing pamphlets in the name of Kurmi Vikas Manch, asking local residents and villagers to be a part the conclave and join hands against “bahris (outsiders)” who have grabbed their ancestral land.
Helpless, principal Ashutosh Kumar rushed to Dugra police station on Tuesday evening and lodged a complaint against Kurmi-Mahto leaders Uttam Mahto, Mohan Mahto and Janki Mahto. The three had helped workers erect the bamboos for putting up the shamiana.
A copy of the complaint has been sent to DC Uma Shankar Singh, superintendent of police Jitendra Singh, Bermo SDO Rahul Kumar Sinha and the Election Commission of India.
“I also met the DC, who has promised to give us justice. But no one has turned up to help us till now. The playground is still out of bounds for the schoolchildren,” Kumar, who has been fighting to get back the land since the Kurmis staked a claim to it on February 7, said.
The land in question belonged to BCCL, which, in the early 1980s, got on lease 790.75 acres in Dugda from the state mining department (Hazaribagh commissionerate) after central clearances. In 2002, the PSU gave seven acres to DAV-Dugda.
After the controversy broke and the students and teachers of the school went on a hunger-strike on February 10, BCCL produced documents to prove they had indeed given seven acres of lease land to DAV at a meeting held by the district officials on February 11 to resolve the stalemate.
But Kurmi-Mahto leaders, who were also present at the meeting, refused to buy any argument.
Last week, principal Kumar even wrote to National Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson, the governor and chief minister, seeking their intervention.
But an unperturbed Uttam Mahto asked: “What’s wrong in convening the Kurmi Sammelan when the ground actually belongs to the local Mahtos?”
When The Telegraph team visited the campus on Wednesday, bamboos had already been erected. A villager who was present at the site said the shamiana would come up within two days.
But the hapless school students and teachers can take solace from the fact that DC Singh has taken a tough stand.
“As the model code of conduct is in place and no one has sought our permission to convene the meeting, we will lodge an FIR against the outfit if the gathering is indeed held. Besides, the Supreme Court has also made it clear that a school compound cannot be used for a political or caste meeting, which would invite another FIR against those convening the sammelan,” he added.