“We want our Principal back,” was the demand of over a 100 students of the Government Model Girls’ Higher Secondary School, Pattom.

Armed with placards and banners, they gheraoed the school on Tuesday, as a mark of protest against the transfer of their Principal N. Retnakumar to a school at Chirayinkeezh after he allegedly locked up the school on the first day of the strike by government employees and teachers on January 8.

Two versions of the day’s events have come out, one accusing Mr. Retnakumar of locking up the school building and the other stating that he had followed the protocol and the rumours were spread by a few staff members who wanted him out.

“The school will not be the same without him. Many of us joined the school just a year ago, but still we have grown attached to him very much. He was always involved in the school’s activities and took heed to all our complaints,” said S. Shilpa, a Class XII student. Others pitched in, all speaking about Mr. Retnakumar’s contributions to the school. Mr. Retnakumar had visited the school on Tuesday morning and while he was leaving, the students swarmed around, and refused to let him go. Some were in tears, insisting that they would move from the school gates only when they received an assurance that he would come back. They laid siege to the school from 9 a.m. till 3.30 p.m. A few teachers also indicated that the allegations were baseless and in no way did he obstruct teaching. Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Retnakumar said that no senior teacher was willing to take over charge the previous day, so as per protocol he went ahead and submitted the keys to the Deputy Director of Education on the morning of January 8. “I spoke to the Regional Deputy Director and followed the right procedure. Moreover, the news that was spread was that I locked the school gates but the only room that was locked was my office,” he said.

Director of Higher Secondary Education Keshvendra Kumar said that the president of the school Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and some students had a meeting with the General Education Secretary K. Ellangovan who would take the final decision on the matter.

CPI(M) demand

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (Marxist) district unit secretary Kadakampally Surendran condemned the transfer of N. Retnakumar and demanded to reinstate Mr. Retnakumar at the earliest.

The PTA, in a release here on Tuesday, demanded that Mr. Retnakumar be brought back to the school without delay. The government should take urgent steps to bring him back, PTA president G. Balachandran Nair said.