When the Khajuri Khas government school reopened after a nineteen-day gap, students were seen taking classes under the scorching sun.
Students of Class VI and VII sat on wooden benches in the playground as teachers dictated algebra solutions and geography lessons to them over loudspeakers.
A portion of the old wing of the school building has been closed for repairs because of flooding. Unlike on September 10, the classes for girls and boys were held in separate shifts.
Police said school authorities had approached them and sought protection.
“The school authorities feared some protests as it reopened. We knew parents would protest so we had already deployed a huge force,” said a police officer.
Classes were held amid police protection and the area outside the school was barricaded.
‘No takers for our story’
The family members of victims gathered at the spot said government officials did not take their version into account before submitting an inquiry report on the tragedy.
“My granddaughter has been crying hoarse that they were molested in the school premises. No one is ready to listen to them,” said Akhtari Begum, grandmother of Soni Nisha, who studies at the government school. Nisha's elder sister Ayesha Khatun was killed in the mishap.
Shamsheeran, mother of Afroze, a class XI student who died on Septmeber 10 said that she feared sending her other daughters to school.
"Our life has come to a standstill after her death. We fear sending my other daughter to school as the boys who molested Afroze could harm her,” said Shamseeran. “All of them are roaming free.”
Some families even claimed that they had not received the government compensation yet.
Children, students, teachers and staff held a condolence meeting in memory of the five students killed in the incident.
“We observed a two-minute silence to remember and pray for the students who died in the mishap," said Hemlata, a class VII student.
Attendance was lower than usual, with approximately 400 students present in each shift as confusion prevailed over whether the school had opened or not.
“I just came to check if the school was open, so I am not wearing my uniform,” said Rohit Kumar, a student of class VI.
Some parents who had come to leave their wards said children were still traumatized by September 10’s stampede.
“My daughter was too scared to attend school. She lost her friend in the incident and is still haunted by visions of the stampede,” said Gayatri Devi whose daughter studies in class VII.
A senior education officer, who visited the school, downplayed the anxiety. “All teachers and students are present and it would be wrong to say that they are scared or traumatized."