Haryana girls end hunger strike after govt issues notification for upgradation of school

The female students of a government high school in Haryana's Rewari district called off their hunger strike on Wednesday after the state government issued a notification to upgrade their school in the village to senior secondary, CNN News 18 reported.

The girls, studying in Class IX and X in Gothda Tappa Dahina village, broke their fast only after a local MLA met and showed them the written order.

The girls said they had complained to the sarpanch, who took up the matter with the authorities, but to no avail, so they had to resort to a hunger strike. On Friday, health of four girls deteriorated and they had to be shifted to hospital, according to Hindustan Times.

 Haryana girls end hunger strike after govt issues notification for upgradation of school

Rewari: The girl students of Government High School break their fast and celebrate in Rewari on Wednesday after the Haryana Government ordered upgradation of their school to level of Senior Secondary School. PTI

According to the notification, the school will be upgraded to senior secondary with effect from the 2017 admission session. Haryana Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said that a principal has been assigned for the upgraded school and admission procedure will start will start from Thursday, according to ANI.

Despite Sharma assuring them on Monday that the school would be upgraded, the students had continued with the stir, saying that until they received official word from the government, they would not relent. With news pouring in that the government had issued the formal notification, there were scenes of jubilation as the girls called off their stir. Officials of the Rewari district administration and those from the education department offered a glass of juice to the girls who were on hunger strike. "We are happy that our efforts have yielded fruit," said a beaming girl student who had sat on fast.   Of the 86 protesting students, 13 were on hunger strike, village head Suresh Chauhan told PTI. For higher education after Class X, girls of the village had to go to Kanwali village, located 3 km from Gothra Tappa Dahina. The girls resorted to hunger strike after their complaints of being harassed by local boys went unheard, NewX reported.

“We fear harassment and molestation by youths of other villages and hence, we are demanding upgradation of our school up to Class XII," one of the girls on hunger strike had said. The protesters had said they would not stop until the government accepted their demand.

Officials had earlier said the school could not be upgraded as it did not meet the condition of a minimum of 150 students required for the senior secondary level.

Meanwhile, the district education authorities said since the school did not fulfill the minimum condition required for the senior secondary level, it could not be upgraded.

“At least 150 students are required in Class IX and X for the senior secondary upgrade but the Dahina village school has just 86 students in both classes,” said Dharmbir Balrodia, District Education Officer (DEO), Rewari.

The education minister on Wednesday said the rules had been relaxed after discussion with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and the Additional Chief Secretary of the school education department, PK Das.

Asked to comment on the harassment of girls by anti-social elements while going to other villages for studies, Das said that besides the state government, it is also the responsibility of Panchayats and other prominent people of the
village to come forward to confront such elements.

Haryana has one of the lowest Child Sex Ratios (CSR) in the country. The state has also witnessed horrific crimes
against women in the recent past, including the gangrape and killing of a 23-year-old woman, and the rape of a minor girl by her stepfather.

Opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Singh Chautala told reporters on Wednesday that the BJP government, which had tom-tommed the 'Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao' campaign, had failed to assure the girls earlier, due to which the condition of many of the students on fast had deteriorated.

"This government is failing in its duty. This means people have no faith in this government as people are not ready to even take the assurance of a senior minister (Ram Bilas) at face value," Chautala said.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: May 17, 2017 19:31:05 IST