Arguably the capital’s oldest educational institution, the Anglo Arabic School at Ajmeri Gate is fighting for survival. Its opponents are allegedly anti-social elements from adjoining areas.
The 300-year-old Madrassa Ghaziuddin Khan, which presents the only chance at acquiring even basic education for lower-middle class residents and women from Muslim households of surrounding areas, has been struggling to maintain decorum in its premises for months.
Anti-social elements have allegedly been entering at will, disturbing the peace and indulging in drinking, gambling and other illicit activities within the school’s historical premises.
“In addition to two schools, a women’s polytechnic also functions from the school’s campus,” said Mobina Aqir, Head Mistress, Model School, Anglo Arabic School complex. “Since the trespassing began, many students have stopped attending classes.”
The school complex is a relic of the capital’s religious and educational legacy and mirrors its turbulent colonial history.
“The Anglo-Arabic School has borne witness to Delhi’s 300-year-old history since its establishment,” said Dr Madhu Prasad, Reader, Zakir Hussain College.
“I remember when I was a student at the College myself. It is a pity that the same ground where young poets used to recite verses has become a place for illicit activities,” said Tejpal Anand, who passed out from Delhi College in 1946.
The school was readying for a new beginning after a 2005 Delhi High Court judgment instructing all encroachments in and around the school compound be removed.
However, an independent committee created by the Delhi Waqf Board on July 2, allowing outsiders to visit the shrine ‘Hafiz Dargah Sadullah Naqshbandi’ as per convenience, has become the latest hurdle in the school’s path.
“Attempts are being made to trespass upon our property under the pretext of religion. People disturb students while they’re attending classes,” said Azra Razzack, Secretary, Delhi Education Society (DES). “On many occasions, our female teachers have been harassed by local rowdies.”
The school’s administration is questioning the DWB’s authority as far as the maintenance of the three-century-old school complex is concerned, “Since 1951, the DES has been the sole arbiter for the maintenance and preservation of the school’s premises. Why did the DWF decide to create this committee without even consulting us?” asked Abdul Malik, Principal, Anglo Arabic School.
Chaudhry Matin Ahmed, Spokesperson, DWB said, “The dargah is in the school complex but not a part of it.”