It was a forced holiday for students of Upper Primary School at Kamaalpur village in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh when communal violence spread in May.
Parents stopped sending their children to school, fearing for their safety. The attendance declined and the school reached the brink of closure, till Abhishek, a Dalit student of Class 8, decided to step in.
He mobilised a number of students and formed a small ‘toli’ (group).
“Each day after school, I started moving in the village, appealing to friends and their parents that studies must continue,” said the 14-year-old, who did his best to boost the morale of edgy parents.
“The school is situated in a predominantly Muslim area. Of the 225 students, 117 are Muslims.”