Fearing leopards, Aarey Colony school students skip classes
Petrified after spotting a leopard in the vicinity of the Aarey Colony Municipal School, Anita Khandekar, 25, a resident of Gaondevipada, did not send her three children to the school for three days last week. Nikhil M Ghanekar reports.mumbai Updated: Jan 10, 2013 01:46 IST
Petrified after spotting a leopard in the vicinity of the Aarey Colony Municipal School, Anita Khandekar, 25, a resident of Gaondevipada, did not send her three children to the school for three days last week.
Dhamadeep Mogha, 10, spotted a leopard on his way to the school from Jivachapada on Tuesday. Though he attended his classes, he made sure that his father Anand Rai Mogha dropped him to school the next day.
With leopard sightings becoming a common feature, several students from the area are forced to bunk their classes.
"While we were about to cross the hillock to reach the school on Friday, I saw a leopard. Scared, I returned home with my kids. My children couldn't muster the courage to step out of the house for the next few days," said Khandekar.
Nearly 3,000 students study in the two Marathi-medium schools, two Tamil-medium schools and a Hindi-medium school in the premises.
On January 7, the wild cat was spotted just a few feet away from the classrooms. In the last two weeks, leopards have strayed into the school premises twice.
The fear among parents often leads to empty classrooms. The school management committee (SMC) comprising parents, teachers and the school administration have requested the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to start a bus service to pick up and drop children from the nearby tribal hamlets.
Corporator Jitendra Valvi said that a letter has been sent to the BEST authorities at Dindhoshi depot.
"We are preparing a list of students from different hamlets to be submitted to BEST. We have also sent a proposal to the civic body to fence the approach road and the school premises," said Valvi.
"Students usually bunk classes a day after a leopard is sighted. Recently, only six students turned up from a class of 32. We have to visit them, persuade their parents to send them to school," said Amruta Rane, who has taught at the school for 18 years.