Muslim students fleeing Marad schools

By K A Shaji

Kozhicode, May 26: When the new school term begins in the first week of June it may not be the parents who will be accompanying the students to the two schools in Marad.
The school authorities have decided to ask for police escort to the kids going to the schools in the communally tense area.However, it is not yet sure whether the Jinaraj Das Memorial ALP School and Government Fisheries LP School will function at all in the present circumstances.
The schools are facing threat of imminent closure as majority of Muslim students have started demanding transfer certificates to join schools in far away places.These schools may suffer a distressing shortage of strength up to 80 percent, which would make it difficult for the Education Department to run these institutions.
The Muslim students, who constitute the majority in these schools, have left the area along with their parents on the night of May 2 fearing retaliatory attack. The children, who now live in temporary relief centres in areas like Payyanakkal, Kappakkal, Kadalundi, beypore and Chaliyam refuse to return to their old schools.
Established in 1910, the Jinaraj Das ALP School had played a pivotal role in moulding the future of many a villagers, who now work in various Gulf countries. Of the total strength of 390, two thirds of the students belong to the Muslim community. The school authorities have issued transfer certificates to 36 Muslim students so far.
Yet another group of 50 students have also applied for transfer certificates. In addition, some Hindu students have also approached the school authorities during the last few days seeking transfer certificate as some religious groups have expressed willingness to accommodate these students in city schools controlled by them.
The headmistress M K Leela along with 10 other teacing staff have already visited the Hindu houses and Muslim camps requesting parents not to demand transfer certificate any more."Further withdrawal of Muslim students from the school would result in the closure of the school.
It would also render two Arabic teachers and two unprotected teachers jobless," said Leela.The school office is now functioning under tight police security."We have already appealed to the authorities not to take any action detrimental to the students here. Muslim students would return to the schools once the situation improves," said M Anil Kumar, president of the PTA.
"We were in no way related to the May 2 communalcarnage. But, we found our house destroyed and furniture damaged. How could I send my seven year-old child to the school," asked M. Subaida, who now lives at Payyanakkal.
The 50-year-old Government Fisheries Lower Primary School is located very close to the spot where five persons were killed on the night of May 2.No fresh admission to the first standard was made at the school so far.At the school, 80 among the total strength of 106 are Muslims.As many as 15 students have obtained transfer certificates so far.Around 60 others have applied for the same.
"All the six existing teaching staff are now compelling parents not to press for transfer certificates. We hope that the situation would improve," said headmistress M Rabia Bhanu."We would approach City Police Commissioner soon demanding police escort to students reaching school," she added.
When contacted by The New Indian Express, Education Minister Nalakath Soopy said the Government would take a final decision only after thoroughly reviewing the situation."The District Educational Officer and Feroke AEO will visit Marad tomorrow to prepare a report on the two schools. We would also demand a report from the District Collector," the Minister said.
(Indian Express, May 26, 2003)

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