In north-east Delhi schools, burnt books, broken benches tell story of the riot
Colourful walls covered in soot, broken benches, ransacked libraries, burnt keyboards and computers, heaps of books and examination sheets charred to ashes — at least three schools in violence-hit areas of north-east Delhi told tales of destruction after being attacked by rioters between Sunday and Tuesday.
The three schools, which have been shut down indefinitely , impact nearly 3,000 students.
Vibhor Chaudhary, a Class 10 student of Arun Modern Public School in Brijpuri, had just one concern since Tuesday, when the school was attacked. “When I heard that the school was on fire, I got worried because I had not collected my admit card. I did not want to lose a year because of this violence,” he said.
On Thursday, the principal of the school, Jyoti Rani, was scrabbling through burnt files, trying to find out if any of the records survived. “Our computer systems were burnt and all our digital records were damaged. We are trying to retrieve whatever information we can get,” she said.
Damaged computer records and burnt assignments have become another source of anxiety for students. “My social science assignment on disaster management was damaged in fire along with the projects on other subjects. The records are gone. I don’t know what will happen,” Chaudhary said.
School cashier Neetu Chaudhary said she had got several calls from students enquiring about their papers. “We have told them that we will issue duplicate admit cards. Apart from that, our principal and other administrative officials will visit the exam centre and ensure that students get to sit for their papers.”
School owner Bhisham Sharma, a former MLA, said the administrative block will have to be demolished. “We have called an architect for assessment. If the lintel of the main building is damaged, the entire structure will have to be brought down and the school will probably have to be shut down for six months,” he said.
Shiv Vihar’s DRP Convent Public School suffered the maximum damage among the three schools that were targeted.
School manager Yatendra Sharma said they are taking stock of the situation. “We will meet in a few days to decide how to go forward. We are still getting calls from unknown numbers threatening us to not open our school,” he said.
The courtyard of the school had benches, some burnt, piled on top of the other in the background of soot-covered walls. Calling the attack on their school “planned”, administrative head Dharmesh Sharma said, “The blades of the fans have been twisted. Books have been thrown outside classrooms. We had at least 30 computers in our lab and they have all been stolen. Every corner of our school has been destroyed. This is a planned attack and the emotions of children have been hurt.”
The school hopes to clear the rubble and make at least one corner of the school functional. “We will cover the heavily burnt areas with tin sheets so that children aren’t traumatised,” he said.
Rajdhani Public School, next to DRP, was also damaged in the riot. Rooms on the ground floor were torched, books strewn on the floor and outside, along with shards of glass everywhere. Security guard Manoj Chandra, who was at school when the attack happened, said, “Rioters ransacked my quarters and stole our belongings. They threatened to kill me and my family. I somehow managed to escape.”
School founder Faisal Farooq said, “We plan to write a letter to the chief minister and request him for assistance in rebuilding our school. We will also postpone our annual exams till the situation is better and the school is rebuilt.”
On Thursday, the government said the Directorate of Education will provide books and notebooks to government and private schools students .