Class 5 student Roshna on sit-in outside school
While her classmates are busy studying at the Tata High Range School in Munnar, class 5 student Roshna T. Henry is staging a sit-in outside the front gates - along with her parents - for nearly two weeks now, following her ouster from the school.
"On Monday the school re-opened and I was hoping against hope that the school authorities would allow me to continue my studies. But it did not happen. I am really sad. All my friends have begun their studies in Class 5, while I am waiting for the Tata company officials to consider my case favourably," Roshna told IANS.
She had to leave school after her father Henry Joseph was dismissed from service of Tata Tea (part of which is now known as Kannan Devan Hills Plantations Co) as he refused to take a transfer to another place over two years back.
According to the school rules, the education facility is only for the children of the employees. After Joseph was sacked, the school authorities reportedly allowed Roshna to stay on in the school for two years on compassionate grounds.
"I was transferred. I had my own problems. My wife was hospitalised and my mother is ill so I did not join and was terminated from service. My case is presently going on in the labour court," said Joseph.
On April 12 this year, a few weeks before the start of the new academic year, Roshna was given a compulsory transfer certificate.
Roshna's mother, a nursery teacher by profession, points out there are other students in the school who are not children of tata employees.
"The local legislator's children and wards of the local electricity board engineer are studying (in the school). Isn't this discrimination? Moreover the case that my husband has in the labour court is going on. We only want justice," the mother said.
Pratap Ramdas, the Tata Company official who looks after the functioning of the school, said that the rule that only children of Tata employees could study in the school was bent only in "extreme cases".
"We gave him a letter stating all the facts and he sent us a legal notice. What one should remember is that for the past two years we charged his daughter the same fees that we charge from our company employees. Those very few children who are given the exemption have to pay much higher fee. We have always treated the case of Roshna favourably. We are looking into her case and maybe in the coming days we will be able to resolve it amicably," said Ramdas.
"I wish I'm able to go back to class. But now I am getting ready not to go to class, but to sit in front of the school. I will be taking my books and I will sit in front of the school and study," said Roshna.