Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Protest Demonstration at Rajasthan House on Jan 3rd

A meeting of educationists, students , teachers and social activists was held at ANHAD on 20 December, 2005 to oppose the move of thew JDA to demolish BANDHIYALI SCHOOL. It was decided that a protest demonstration would be held at the Rajasthan House on 3 January , 2005 at 12 pm .It was also decided that a protest demonstration would be held in the first week of January , 2006 in Jaipur. Exact date and venue would be finalised in consultation with Jaipur friends.

It was also noted that the Jaipur High Court has fixed 9 january, 2006 as the next date of hearing of the petition filed by Digantar against the JDA move. Stay has been extended till 9 January.

NAFRE has taken the responsibility to mobilise political support and network related efforts.

You are requested to mobilise support for thse two actions.

In Solidarity,

Amar Negi( DIET),Amitabh Pandey(SPACE),Anshu Sinha( DIET),
Apoorvanand( D.U.), Archana Dwivedi (NIRANTAR),Archana(DIET)
,Asha Jonia( DIET), Asif( SRUTI), Babita Malhan(DIET), Deepika (LSR),Fr. George Kollashany( AMAN BIRADARI , YAR),Ishtiyaque( SRUTI),Jamal Kidwai(AMAN), Jatin Singh( DIET), Kamljeet Kaur(DIET),Khemanand( DIET),Mainak sarkar(NAFRE),Manasi Sharma(ANHAD),Manish Gupta( DIET),Mritunjay(JNU),Mukul Priyadarshini(LSR), Priya Dhawan(LSR), Purushottam Agrawal(JNU) Rajesh Chandra( AMAN BIRADARI),Ranjit Abhigyan, Sadashiv ( Dayal Singh College), Shailnder Singh( NAFRE),Sarita( DIET) Satyam Singh( Aman Biradari), Seema (DIET), Sonika Kaushik(JESUS AND MARY COLLEGE), Sudha Malik(LSR), Sunil Rathi( DIET),Veenu Raghav( DIET)

Bandhyali School Hearing - Next Hearing on Jan 9

The next date for the court hearing is on Jan 9th. The case was not heard on Dec 19th.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Appeal to Join Protest for Bandhyali School

This is a request to join protest at ANHAD ..

Dear friends,
This is an SOS on behalf of the 300 children of Rajasthan living near Jaipur belonging to extremely poor families of Muslim, Mali and Gujar communities, who would be losing their Constitutional Right to Education if The Jaipur Development Authority(JDA) is allowed to demolish their 13 year old upper primary school called BANDHIYALI SCHOOL to make way for a commercial and profit making educational shop called MAHIMA SHIKSHA SAMITI.
In 1993 villagers from Kho Nagoria and Bandhiyal identified a piece of community land on which they built up this school with the help of DIGANTAR , a Jaipur based organization , well known for its innovations in Educational philosophy and class room practices . Monetary support came from the MHRD, Government of India.
The JDA has issued a notice to Digantar asking it to vacate the 3 Bigha land on which Bandhiyali School stands as i t was secured by it for MAHIMA Shiksha Samiti. Fortunately for the children of the school , Rajasthan High Court has stayed the eviction order till 19 December. But it is important that all of us who believe in free primary education as an unalienable right of every child need to speak up loudly for Bandhiyali School as an institution which provide free education , including books and stationarynto the children of extremely poor background cannot be sacrificed in favour of a profit making enterprise. BANDHIYALI has also emerged as a model for all education students and pedagogues who are for a participatory approach towards education and who are striving to promote education practices based on group learning and cooperation through which children and teachers create delightful knowledge. Teacher educators have also been using BANDHIYALI as their laboratory all these years.
We are holding a protest meet on 20 December, 2005( TUESDAY)at 4.30pm at ANHAD premises( 4, Windsor Place, Ashoka Road, Opp. Hotel SHANGRILA) . This is to request you to join this protest and circulate this notice widely to mobilize wider support for the BANDHIYALI SCHOOL.
Kindly confirm your participation,
Anil Chaudhary
Dipta Bhog
Mukul Priyadarshini
Purushottam Agrawal
Shalini Advani

Friday, December 16, 2005

Media Coverage

These are links to media coverage we know of till now:
Hindustan Times

Digantar's Legal Stand

A new fact sheet explaing Digntar's legal stand and other background + a copy of PIL are uploaded.
Fact Sheet

Public Interesest Litigation

Some Excerpts from the fact sheet explaining the legal stand & other questions/clarifications:

The Fundamental Right to free education
  • Fundamental Right to “free and compulsory education” is granted to every child in the age group of 6-14 years under Article 21A, as a consequence of ‘The Constitution (Eighty-Sixth Amendment) Act, 2002’. Closure or dislocation of the school will lead to disruption of education of 325 children, and an end to education of more than 200, majority of whom shall be girls. In addition it would mean a lost opportunity to many future students.
“Neither the state government nor any of its agencies/ authorities can be allowed to supersede a claim under the Fundamental Right to education in favour of a claim that is not covered by any of the Fundamental Rights. A cause like allotment of land for a private university, as per JDA’s decision, is not covered by any of the Fundamental Rights since it is meant to provide commercialized education to students over 18 years of age and who will be”. (From Prof. Sadgopal’s letter)

Therefore, closure of a school in this case would be violation of the constitution of India.

Discrimination against Digantar
  • Even if JDA claims that all earlier applications were on plain paper and no application fee was paid for them the application of April 8, 2003 cannot be ignored, it was ‘complete’ in every respect.

  • This application mentions willingness to pay for the land at concessional rates that the government itself decides for the allotment of land to schools.

  • The school is free and all books and stationary is provided for free.

  • On what grounds then dose JDA allots land to a later applicant? Are such decisions based on the sweet will of the official of the day? Can they be arbitrary? Should not Digantar expect a fair treatment in this case?

  • I am informed there are Supreme Court judgments that imply ‘legitimate expectation to be heard’ for the applicant that applies first. And their application has to be judged on merit.

  • In addition Digantar will use the land for public benefit and not for private profit, that constitutes additional merit.

  • Is there a redressal in the law for this kind of deliberate discrimination?
The moral aspect of calling Digantar an encroacher
  • Partly dealt in the point above.

  • Encroachment in ordinary language means “entry to another's property without right or permission”

  • Digantar started the school with the active recommendation of the community, and sent an application to the legal authority that was responsible for the land one month or so before the building was started. No response came.

  • That does not give Digantar entitlement to the land, but it absolves Digantar of any land-grabbing intentions. Digantar has been informing through applications to legitimate authority about running of the school. They never asked to vacate.

  • Also there is a board next to the school that states that the land does not belong to Digantar, it belongs to the government. The board was put up by Digantar itself.

  • The legitimate authority dealing with land allotment (JDA) did not do what was expected of it (consider the application, accept or reject it) and by sear inaction made Digantar into an encroacher. This is injustice by inaction.
Legal aspect of possession of the land:
  • Even if JDA does not accept our arguments and intentions as expressed in two points above then they have to accept that school is running there for more than 12 years, there is plenty of documentary evidence.

  • A possession that old can be removed only by due process of law: that is the JDA should go to the civil court and get a decree from there. They cannot directly demolish the school.

  • I am informed that there is a JDA regulation to regularise all land that is occupied before 1994, there are more than a lakh of such cases in Jaipur. Then why not regularise Digantar. Discrimination again.
What do we want?
  • Our primary concern is running of the school. The school needs to be taken to the level of Senior Higher Secondary, to serve the cause of girls’ education properly.

  • We want to start an institution of education (for research in pedagogy and teacher education) that takes the pedagogical work being done further academically. Such institution can start with our best and biggest school only. But that would require more land (total about 7 acres) than what we have applied for, and that possibility is remote now.

  • The school would be free, and all ventures of Digantar are non-profit activities.

  • If the government gives this land to us on lease for a long period, for this specific purpose, it would be our first priority. We are not interested in ownership or making profit out of it.

  • Alternatively the government can allot the land with condition that we cannot sell it, cannot use for any commercial activity, and that the school shall be free.

  • If even that is not possible (but why?), then we are willing to buy the land at a price that is charged from free schools. We have already said that in our applications and written statements to JDA.
Answers to some other questions that were raised:

What are the options for students? Other Schools etc?

If we do not get the land we have to close down the school. Buying land in that area at the regular price is beyond Digantar at this moment, unless help is available.

Primary schools from two for the Dhanis are about one and a half km, and upper primary is more than two kms. If all 325 children of bandhyali land up in those schools they will not be able to accommodate them.

In any case most of the upper primary girls (about 160) will simply stop going to school. That was the precise purpose of starting upper primary section in the school. AND THAT IS THE REASON WE ARE VERY VERY RELUCTANT TO MOVE THE SCHOOL. THIS PROBLEM MAY BE SOLVED IN ANOTHER 7-10 YEARS BUT AT PRESENT GIRLS ARE UNLIKELY TO GO TO ANY OTHER UPPER PRIMARY SCHOOL.

Why did Digantar start school at this place?

The problem is that 13 years back it was not valuable property. The village community decided that this is a central place for all hamlets and so the school was started there. We informed the government before starting and requested reserving it for school, not for Digantar. The school kept on running for 12 years, mean while we tried to get them to say something on the land several times and they kept mum.

All this is from email/documents sent by Rohit - Digantar Co-ordinator.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Update for Dec 13 Court Hearing

-----Original Message-----
From: Rohit Dhankar [mailto:rdhankar]
Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2005 8:11 AM

Dear Anita,
The court have given 19th December as the next date for hearing, because the state of Rajasthan did not respond so far. We have to keep the mobilisation on till the state files its response.

Professor Yash Pal and Prof. Ramakant Agnihotri have written to the Governor and the CM. Even Prof. Yash Pal's fax failed! he has sent it by post finally. I am attaching the text of both letters. Prof. Anil Sadgopal has given a public statement and faxed it to the governor. I do not have the electronic text of this one so can not email, but may be shall do so by tomorrow.

We feel very encouraged by Asha For Education's support and ...

Update of Community Meeting

-----Original Message-----
From: Rohit Dhankar [mailto:rdhankar]
Sent: Monday, December 12, 2005 2:08 PM

Friends, yesterday’s meeting (its already 12:30 am) was very good. The community’s support was clear through their number and what they said on as well as off the mike. Large number of NGO representative were there and what they said in support of the school in particular and Digantar in general was very heartening.

The meeting was chaired by Mr. Anil Bordia. The key issues that were emphasized were: (1) children’s fundamental right to education should not be allowed to be violated by the JDA, (2) a school for the poor should not be destroyed to facilitate a private university and (3) a voluntary organization doing good work should not be discriminated against.

There was good presence of the media, how well it will be coved will be known only in the morning. JDA commissioner sent two senior JDA officials who were there for the whole meeting. They seem to suggest that the JDA will not disrupt running of the school. Had to admit that the school is doing good work and that the government since encourages girls education it will support the school with majority of girl students. But they said nothing concrete.
A memorandum is prepared for the governor and chief minister, hope fully shall be able to give tomorrow, it had already been faxed.

The court hearing is tomorrow and I shall try to apprise you on the out come by tomorrow evening.

Petition to save Bandhyali school

Petition is at: http://new.PetitionOnline.com/Digantar/petition.html

E-mail from Rohit:

From: Rohit Dhankar [rdhankar@...]
Sent: Friday, December 09, 2005 9:06 AM

Dear Friend,

I am writing this letter in a crisis to enlist your support for Digantar. Perhaps you are aware that we re running four schools in outskirts of Jaipur. These schools were originally started under an MHRD project funded through its scheme for Support to Innovative and Experimental Programmes. Bandhali School, the name comes from the largest hamlet close to the school, is the largest and oldest of existing Digantar schools. It was started in 1992, moved to the present place in 1993 July and at present has a strength of 225 children, more than two hundred of them girls. The school is equivalent to an upper primary school.

On 2nd December 2005, Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) gave a notice to Digantar to remove the school and vacate the land within three days. Fortunately the High Court has ordered to maintain status quo till JDA files its response. To our mind JDA’s insistance on removal of the school would be:

1. a violent disruption of children’s right to education,
2. blatant discrimination against Digantar, and
3. destruction of a very good quality school for the marginalized to favour privatisation of education.

A short document explaining our position is attached. I request you to please read it. If you think we are wrong in out thinking, and our insistence on continuing the school is improper in any sense (ethical and/or legal) please let me know, we will definitely reconsider our position. But if you agree with me that we are on the right course, both ethically and legally, please help us save this school. We are organising a public meeting on 12th December 2005 at Bandhyali school itself. If you could participate in that it would be really very helpful. But even if you cannot participate, please write to the Governor, Chief Minister and Education Minister of Rajasthan as early as possible. If possible please encourage others to write to the above mentioned. Their fax numbers are given in the attached appeal titled Save Bandhyali School.

With best regards