Management blamed; police take one person into custody
Large parts of two tile-roofed buildings of Aided Upper Primary School, Malaparamba, the proposed closure of which has led to widespread protests, were found demolished early Friday.
The school, which functioned as a polling station during the Lok Sabha elections on Thursday, had been in the news for the past several months, following a decision by the government to close it down on a request from its manager, P.K. Padmarajan, who cited the reason of non-viability. The manager had also pointed out that a portion of the school building would have to be pulled down for the widening of the Mananchira-Vellimadukunnu road.
Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb had promised to review the government’s decision after A. Pradeepkumar, MLA, raised the issue in the Assembly a couple of months ago. With the final decision of the government pending, the school authorities were going ahead with the admission procedure for the next academic year.
The School Protection Committee members alleged that the “demolition” was carried out by some “criminals” on behalf of the manager.
The 140-year-old school has 44 students, studying in classes 1 to 7, eight teachers, and two support staff. Eight of the students are differently abled.
More than 70 per cent of the classrooms, the computer lab, and the office-room, where important documents, including the transfer certificates of the children and the service books of the staff members were kept, were ruined.
The teachers said it was with great difficulty that they ensured the functioning of the school. “We were chipping in over Rs.2,000 every month from our salary for the different needs of the school,” a woman teacher, working there for the past 16 years, said. R.K. Iravil, another teacher, said the manager had been threatening them against conducting the admission procedure. Headmistress N.M. Preethi is worried about making the school operational. “We have no idea where we will make our children sit when the school reopens,” she said.
Teachers, students, parents, public representatives, and leaders of political organisations staged a protest in front of the school raising slogans. The protesters blocked the Mananchira-Vellimadukunnu road for several hours. Mayor A.K. Premajam; A. Pradeepkumar, MLA; M.K. Raghavan, MP; Bharatiya Janata Party leader P. Raghunath; Elamaram Karim, MLA; and District Congress Committee president K.C. Abu were present.
The Chevayur police have registered a case. The police seized the excavator used to pull down the buildings and have taken into custody its driver, Prakash, a native of Tamil Nadu. The Hindu tried to contact the school manager over phone, but it was switched off. The police said the manager could not be found at his residence at Vadakara as he was absconding.Report sought
Special Correspondent writes from Thiruvananthapuram:
The Kerala State Child Rights Protection Commission on Friday sought reports from the Director of Public Instruction, Kozhikode District Collector, Deputy Director of Education, and the City Police Commissioner on the demolition of the building.