It is a place where nobody would like to spend time, but nearly 215 children willingly enter the Nabha Jail premises daily. They have no choice as the nearest school is situated within the boundary of the prison. Now, an Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, student has stepped in to save the children from any adverse psychological impact and ensure better schooling facilities. The school is running since 1965 on the jail premises.
Vaibhav Kaushik, who pursuing his internship at Washington DC, US, has written to Punjab State Protection of Child Rights Commission, highlighting Punjab education department’s lackadaisical attitude towards the child rights and absence of basic amenities to the students.
Kaushik approached the commission, seeking to shift the government school out of the jail premises and provide better facilities to them.
In November last year, the jailbreak incident during which bullets were fired, had occurred just 150 feet away from the floor where the students take their mid-day meal. Fortunately, it was a Sunday that day. Children have to enter through the jail’s main gate and there is no boundary wall to separate the school from the jail. On Tuesday, a prisoner committed suicide in the jail and the students were witness to whatever was going around.
Talking to this correspondent from the US, Kaushiksaid he had visited his relatives living in the jail quarters in mid-December and was moved by the conditions the children pursuing their schooling. He said he approached the child rights commission after his pleas to local authorities fell on deaf ears.
Rajwinder Singh Gill, deputy director, state protection of child rights commission, said it was a ‘violation of child rights’ and he had visited the school on receiving the complaint from Kaushik. The commission has summoned the Patiala district education officer on February 23 over the issue, he said.
Education department officials are also visiting the school these days. As per sources, the DEO has issued a notice to the school teachers and block level officers to cite steps taken for the improvement of the school infrastructure. “We have raised the issue a number of times but the higher authorities question our performance only,” said a teacher, requesting anonymity.
“What kind of impression is left on the kids when they see handcuffed criminals?” asks Jagjit Singh from Shiksha Vikas Munch. The students come from the unauthorised colonies situated near the jail. Most of these colonies fall across a railway crossing which the students cross on daily basis. “Jail officials and staff members putting up in the jail quarters don’t send their wards to this school. Most of them study in private schools,” he said.
Also the school infrastructure has been crying for serious attention.
Most of the classes take place in the open and some in dingy rooms lacking proper lighting and ventilation where students are crammed like sheep. The toilets lack proper supply of water. The mid-day meal material is stored in unhygienic conditions .
Kaushik is keeping track of the developments and says he will pursue the matter up to any level. When contacted, Patiala DEO Balwinder singh Aulakh said they are trying to move the school out of the jail premises.