Responding to the assault on a senior teacher inside the examination centre at a school in Amritsar district, senior BJP leader and former minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla has offered a suggestion to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to do away with the concept of holding examinations for all classes if the government is unable to take action against those responsible for promoting cheating in examinations.
"The chief minister owes an answer to the people of the state and the teachers, as it is quite clear that those who beat up examination superintendent Pushpinder Kumar at Government High School, Bhangali Kalan on March 21 had the backing of a member of the ruling party, who is close to the corridors of power," Chawla said in a strongly worded statement here on Sunday.
She said that if the chief minister cannot give any form of commitment on checking cheating in examinations and taking action against those responsible for the Bhangali Kalan incident, the government must stop conducting examinations for promoting students to the next class. She described the incident as "official goondaism".
Describing the incident as "shameful", she said that the first reaction of education minister Sikander Singh Maluka and senior officers of the education department seemed very encouraging as they had promised to bring those responsible for the assault to book and even ordered the police to arrest them. However, after knowing that those booked by the police enjoyed the backing of the ruling party, the minister and his officers seemed to have mellowed down, she claimed.
"If such is the attitude of the officers, no one is going to come forward to check the menace of copying in examinations. Why should anyone risk his or her life," she added.
Chawla pointed out that Pushinder Kumar, a senior mathematics teacher, was so scared that he decided not to pursue the case and sought a transfer to a "safer" place.
Chawla did not give much thought to the statement of director general of school education (DGSE) KS Pannu of pursuing the case and punishing those responsible for thrashing the superintendent. The education department too had given a similar statement after learning about the compromise that the superintendent entered into against those who had beaten him, she said.
"Such incidents will only promote copying as no one is going to come forward to check those responsible for this menace," said Chawla.
The Amritsar rural police had, on Friday, arrested Pran Nath and his son Vikas for allegedly beating up Pushpinder Kumar and threatening the other staff on examination duty at the school. The father-son duo, along with 10 of their associates, were booked under sections 186, 188, 353, 332, 506, 148, 149 of the IPC and the Arms Act.
The incident occurred after Vikas was caught by the staff on duty at the school while trying to sneak into the examination centre with chits to help his sister Sophia, who was appearing for the Class 12 computer examination. He returned with his father and 10 others and attacked the superintendent and even damaged school property.
The father-son duo are said to be politically well connected as a relative of theirs is a leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The police, who had come to know of the compromise on Friday, have so far refused to withdraw the case.
Pannu, who took strong note of the incident, had made it clear that those involved in threatening and beating up the school staff would not be spared. He had ordered the expulsion of Vikas, who too was a student of the school, and his sister.