New Era Protestors Should Have Been Arrested

Parents and students of New Era School on Pedder Road took out a “rasta-roko andolan” outside the school to protest the school closing an unsafe building. Traffic along the six lane Pedder Road was disrupted for over 8 hours (+/-).

28strike Pedder Road in the city is one of the busiest thoroughfares. Not only for local traffic but also for suburban commuters connecting to points in South Bombay.

This protest was nothing but a tamasha that the parents and kids resorted to so that they get some media coverage. Ironically this happened on the same day that Omar Abdullah resigned. So the hoped for TV coverage didnt happen as they wouldve loved.

What pisses me off is the reasons and the modus operandi of these very selfish parents. The school wants to demolish the building because it is unsafe for occupancy. They are moving the children to another building a little distance away. The building has been inspected by three independent structural engineers who all agree that is is unsafe. However the parents still want the school to keep the building open and let their children study in this unsafe building.

The parents allege that the school is trying to shunt out the lower fee-paying SSC division to some other building and use this plot to build a fancy high fee-paying Int’l division school.

The controversy started last year when the school management decided to permanently shift SSC students to a new location on D N Road in Fort, as they wanted to demolish the existing building at Hughes Road for IGCSE and IB Board. Parents approached the HC against decision and won the case in July.

On June 4, the school management had circulated a notice to parents that school would restart on June 29 at building in D N Road, Fort. The school, however, did not starts as the matter was pending in court [link]

If this is correct and I am sure there is some truth to it, then take this to court, get a stay order and pursue it through legal means. Don’t resort to uncivilized hooligan tactics.

28busThe police stood there for the most part and could not do much as they said kids were involved and therefore they could not use any means to disperse the crowd. I guess they meant tear gas et al.

The parents took shelter behind the children and held the city and lakhs of people to ransom.

What is more appalling is that students were encouraged to do crazy things like climb up on the front of buses etc as this picture shows.

This also sends a very wrong message to children, the adults of tomorrow. It teaches them that taking the law into your own hands is the recourse to all problems and loutish, roughish behavior is the way to go.

Image Copyrights Mid-Day

Mahafreed Irani, a journalist with Times of India and a friend from the blog/twitter/facebook world has a first person account on her blog.

6 Comments so far

  1. haresh on July 30th, 2009 @ 1:37 pm

    I am father of a 9 year old daughter who is at home for last 2 months thinking why is she not going to school? Why is this injustice being meted out to her? A young mind today is talking about courts and street protests instead of leaning history, science and maths which will lead her to nation building. Do you even know that parents and students with sitting MLA had been on hunger strike for 7 days, handing out roses to passer-byes and motorists on the same road for days to end? The media is interested in gay rights and whether Sanjay Dutt scratched his behind in the morning make national news headlines. It is sickening. When the state turns a blind eye to injustice, and greedy people with power and corruption turn predators, people will take the same course we took. Though, the entire struggle has been peaceful, both us parents and students heartily apologise for even the smallest inconvenience to anyone. The roles of renowned structural engineers, education director and education minister are far from satisfactory. At the same time, Mumbai Police and the Chief Minster deserve a salute for their fairness and support. Who says the largest democracy in the world has achieved freedom? History taught us, the same management struggled to drive out the British and now they are driving out innocent children to bring in Cambridge education. Guess, integrity, commitment, honesty and honour went out with the British.

  2. manan on July 30th, 2009 @ 3:37 pm

    I completely agree with mr. Haresh.
    I have some questions which if any one can answer will be obliged.

    1}why did Birla management din’t open the school even as highcourt directed them to open the school by 14/7/2009?
    2}why no steps were take against the management even though they kept on saying in Media that they will not open the school?
    3}In case of Shaini Ahuja (Actor) DNA test of govt hospital was approved then on what basis report from private consultant hired by management is emphasised more jenuine then reports of Municipal corp’s engineer & as engineer of very high repute appointed by commitee of Dep directir of education?
    4}why inspite of two notice from Education dept was ignored by school management?
    5}what is more important education of 1000 childrens or EGO of an industrial house.
    6}if the school building was really that bad why did school management added an floor to building by puting heavy tencile roof?
    7}how come even after supreme court direction no decission was taken dy director in 14 days & without careing of future of 1000 students he once again moved to supreme court & asked further extention of 10 days when he was asked for reasone the answer was i was busy in oter work was he so busy that even after the passage of 50 days of oter schools started he din’t felt this matter a priority?
    8}The structure proposed for the shift was more dangerous than the exsisting building are you awere of that.


  3. sunitap on July 31st, 2009 @ 10:59 am

    Hi Manan

    The management and trustees of New Era school put the safety of the children above all other considerations. That is the reason we did not open the school after paying ample heed to the structural weakness pointed out by three reputed structural engineers in this country.

    Further to the tests of these engineers (who are also BMC empanelled, by the way, the BMC engineer who was at site conducted only a visual test and a coin test to check the structure–not the most scientific way, you will agree.

    The issue is about the lack of understanding and letting some vested interest parties take the upper hand. There is no ego, please understand, when the safety of the children is at stake.

    Also, let me clarify that no floor has been added to the school building.

  4. Chitra (chitragouniyal) on July 31st, 2009 @ 11:24 am

    I noticed an article in the paper today – something like “what kind of values are we teaching our children.” As a mother I agree. Are our kids going to grow up thinking if we need to sort out anything, let’s jump on buses, stop traffic, shout slogans – never mind who else is suffering in the bargain. I was stuck in Dharavi for hours. That’s not the point. The values that kids are being indoctrinated with is scary. And hey, I saw a huge ad with what several engineers said about the nature of the building. It’s really old too I think. Would never take a chance – for my own convenience, I can’t play with my kid or any other kid’s safety. But who’s listening.

  5. manan on July 31st, 2009 @ 4:34 pm

    Dear Sunitap,

    Good face saving act for Management but non of my questions still remains unattended.

    Now please clarify these further sets of questions.

    1} Why did when management issued its first circular it stated that shifting of school is permanent? Didn’t they understand that when a child joins a school he expects to complete its class X at the same premises Wasn’t that a foul play from management.

    2} Shri Birlaji himself had said that we will faze out SSC in due course then how the issue of PERMENENT SHIFTING CAME?

    3}If the intentions were really genuine why did Parents were not called & taken into confidence?

    4}why did management prepared false Minutes of PTA body meeting & ignored objections raised by TEACHERS & CLASS REPRESENTATIVES?(pl do not bluff as the same has been already proved & confirmed by management)

    5}Why did management didn’t felt necessary to consider & call general body meeting of parents if they were really so clean?

    6}why no reply to various letters sent directly to Shri Kumar Mangalam Birlaji By (Fax, Registered post, hand delivered to office & residence, & even by e-mail) were not answered?

    7}Why SSC students were not accommodated with IGCSC students in the same premises? (pl do not give reason of arability of space as you have added More then 750 students in IGCSC section in this current year & you had bought the whole building which could have easily accommodated both students in shifts.)


    Now to argument of Ms. Chitra on child safety & moral lesson to kids

    Do you mean to say that it is the management which is more are more concerned about their children’s safety then their parents?

    Should we need to teach our children to become COWERD or BRAVE TO FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHT, TRUTH & JUSTICE? Madam we have taught our child to fight like Gandhji{And rightfully we won at Dy. director education, High court Mumbai But sadly management being big industrial house didn’t had sporting spirit & went to Supreme court & then also they didn’t won but only lost to disgrace}But still the school was not opened hence the frustration of parents came out.

    Tell me frankly wouldn’t you have left the school then to give fight to 4th largest group in country but we fought united & we won. RASTA ROKO WAS ONLY TO CREATE AWERNESS & TO GET GOVT TO ACT.

    Have you seen the existing location? The current location is better & stronger then any other school in south Mumbai.

    So please don’t jump without knowing the facts of the case.


  6. haresh on August 1st, 2009 @ 1:36 am

    We truly sympathise with the citizens of Mumbai who were inconvenienced and chose to give opinions against us. We respect their views and apologise once again.

    However, should there be any such unjust incidents with other institutions, we will support their cause, peacefully.

    Everyone involved is making allegations left, right and centre. That gives us authority to make few of our own.

    1. The management in it’s declaration in newspapers, after it was rightly forced to re-start the school at original premises, amply makes it clear that as they are running a private unaided institution, they are free to take any decision they want, commercial or otherwise. They hardly talk about education except that they are running 40 odd educational institutions.
    2. The students / parents never invited the current management but they took over the school and chose to drive out these children unilaterally and permanently under the guise of repairs. They were subsequently forced to give undertaking in various courts for ‘returning children to original premises within 2 years’ If one were to read the communication (photocopies and unsigned) from management to parents / students, they smacked of arrogance, coercion and intimidation.
    3. The so-called reputed structural engineers gave a ‘FIT’ certificate in BMC when the school underwent repairs and added some portion to the existing structure. However, within 20 days, the same engineers submitted a ‘NOT FIT’ certificate to the BMC and proposed demolition.
    4. It is heard that there sometimes is a method in madness but in this issue besides madness there is a lot of wickedness, that is why the protest.
    5. They also mention that they asked the parents to locate new premises, which is essentially the management’s job. The parents / students have never opposed shifting temporarily for better facilities at existing premises but the new location is in even worse condition, which is why and for other regulatory reasons, the education dept. did not give NOC to the management. Besides, fire dept, also raised objections and refused NOC. Now, under these circumstances should we have accepted the shift? If better premises are offered by the management, we were always and are prepared to shift temporarily.
    6. School management has sought signatures of parents upon re-starting of school indemnifying the management from responsibility should any untoward incident happen. They should have sought the same from BMC and their pals in the education department, as they have certified the building to be in safe condition.
    7. We demonstrated to our children to uphold justice and fight for their truthful rights and keep their head high (sans arrogance). We also taught them to bow their heads and seek apology for trouble caused to unsuspecting and unrelated persons knowingly or unknowingly. These are the values we imbibed in our children.
    8. Public at large understood this message better by Munnabhai, where he doesn’t know what to do after getting a slap on the other cheek and takes the other route.
    9. And lastly, please stop bringing in psychologists in every issue the world faces. Their comment is entirely unwarranted and out of taste. They are probably helping no one and may have an opinion on this article as well.

    I am done making further comments. Everything that needed to be said has been said. Now, SMILE.

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