Several government schools in Patna had an unannounced holiday on Friday.
Reason: Sudden arrival of security forces from different districts for the all-important ‘adhikar rally’. And with forces coming in large numbers, they needed some place to stay. And what better option than government schools and colleges!
So, when the teachers and students turned up at schools, they were in for a shock to find ‘khaki-clad men’ roaming around in the premises or enjoying an extended sleep in just about any room they could find themselves comfortable in ahead of the arduous days ahead. There were others in various state of wear-half or three-fourths undressed and even some in plain underwears. Girls’ schools were not spared and they were the ones to be ‘most shocked’, said teachers.
“What option did we have? We were told by the district education officer (DEO) that the forces will arrive on Saturday evening, but yesterday the local police station informed that they would reach by Friday evening. Yet, actually, the policemen arrived on Thursday night and occupied ten rooms, against the sanctioned four,” said Padma Kumari, principal, Raghunath Balika Uchch Vidyalay, Kankarbagh.
As a result, the ongoing registration for matriculation and plus two was also put off rails. November 5 is the last date for class 10 registration and that is set to be a hectic day for both school authorities and students. The principal said, there was not much anyone could do about it. “We cannot keep the school open, as it is a girls’ institution and the teachers are also mostly women,” she added.
It was, however, not a case in isolation. According to the DEO, around 16 schools have been earmarked for the stay of forces, who were originally scheduled to arrive in the second half of Saturday. “I don’t have information about suspension of classes. If the forces have arrived so early, I cannot tell much,” he added.
Chirayatand High School and Narayani Kanya Uchch Vidyalay also had policemen occupying most of the space. Some of the schools were stumped, as the forces arrived without prior information.
“With so many policemen coming to Patna, schools were always going to be the targets for billeting, irrespective of the government’s announcement, that school premises should not be used for stay of policemen,” said a teacher.
Colleges, too, had to bear with it. Ganga Devi Mahila College, where examinations are going on, was turned overnight as a shelter for cops. College principal Usha Sinha, MLA from Hilsa, who was on leave, told HT, that only women police were supposed to stay there. However, on Thursday evening, male policemen came in to stay, which created a piquant situation due to opposition by the women. Finally, the male policemen were accommodated elsewhere.
Patna Science College had to part with four examination halls after Pirbahore police station authorities asked for space. “They have also sought permission to use the field for parking vehicles. Actually, we don’t know how many policemen will actually stay here. We don’t even have that many toilets,” said a wary college principal. BN College has also been requisitioned for accommodation. Patna College, on the other hand, suspended all classes citing the National Geographic Congress.
In TPS college, one block has been earmarked for the cops. Around 400 of them have already arrived and more are expected to arrive overnight today.
BS College, Danapur, JLN College Khagaul and many others have also been requisitioned for keeping forces. “We are now preparing for life after forces leave, because the institutions will need a big cleaning operation. The examinations are also on, but we have to manage somehow,” he added.