An ongoing row over payment of fee between some parents and the management of Budha Dal Public School in Patiala turned ugly after the school staff allegedly confined nearly 40 students of various classes to the library for about two hours, and police had to be called in. Probes were started by the police as well as the civil administration after at least three students were hospitalised due to trauma; one who was highly diabetic had his sugar levels peaking.
The school principal, Amrit Aujla, claimed that the students were kept “comfortable” and the parents had created drama and manhandled staff, “at which we had to call the police.” But a senior practitioner at the paediatrics medicine department at Government Rajindra Hospital, Dr Parveen Mittal, confirmed that the students were “highly under trauma”: “We administered initial medication and admitted them for further examination. However they were discharged in the evening on the request of the parents.”
The non-payment relates to an annual ‘capitation fee’ of Rs 11,000 to Rs 13,000 each, which is the subject of a battle between nearly 200 parents’ association and the private school’s management in the Punjab and Haryana high court.
The latest flashpoint came after the court, on Monday, directed the school to declare the held-back results of the last session and promote the thus-eligible students to the next class. It left the legality of the annual fee undecided as of yet.
On Tuesday, however, the school segregated students over non-payment as soon they reached the morning assembly around 9am and detained them in the library.
The matter came to light after one of the students called her parents through a visitor’s mobile phone. Parents led groups that barged into the school and took away the kids by 11am.
One of the detained students, Kiranpreet Kaur, said the staff had switched off the fans and denied them food and water in the library. Khemant, a diabetic boy who was later hospitalised, said, “I told them that I am a patient of diabetes and have to eat at regular intervals; but the staff did not let me go even to drink water.”
One of the parents in tears said, “Such arbitrary action breaches all human principles.”
SSP, DC mark inquiries
As parents lodged a police complaint over the “trapping” of the students in the school library, Patiala senior superintendent of police (SSP) Gurmeet Singh Chauhan said he had marked an inquiry to the DSP, city-1. “We have procured the footage of the CCTV camera in the library,” he added. “A seperate inquiry has been marked to the district education officer (DEO),” said deputy commissioner (DC) Ramvir Singh.