In a massive outpouring of anger against Punjab minister Sikander Singh Maluka over the attack on principal Daljeet Singh and his transfer from Bhagta's senior secondary school, teachers and farmers gathered from across the state laid siege to the deputy commissioner's office here.
The protesters formed a joint action committee (JAC) to lead this agitation against Daljeet's transfer and Maluka's alleged support to the elements involved in the attack. They planned to hold a protest march through Bathinda, but the police kept them to the DC office area.
Daljeet Singh had come under attack on April 4 after he had decided to bring certain reforms to the Bhagta school to maintain discipline and transparency. On April 6, he was transferred to Talwandi Sabo. Public pressure forced the administration to say that he'd be back, but then the officers backtracked.
Maluka is drawing criticism from across the region for interfering in the school matters. On Saturday, the district administration had a meeting with the JAC, in which the latter declined to call off its protest. It sticks to its demand of arresting the accused and bringing back the principal.
"The authorities are taking our demands lightly, but we resent political interference of any kind in the government schools and will intensify our protest, if the officials backtrack again," said protester Jagseer Sahota. The authorities have sought time till August 14 to arrest the accused. They will also fix up the JAC's meeting with the minister so that they can sort out the matter.
Several agricultural trade unions also participated in the protest.