The Azamgarh district administration has demolished a part of the 70-year-old Darsgah Islami School in Muslim-dominated Chaand Patti village on court orders. According to a news report in the India Tomorrow portal, this has created a near crisis for over 600 students, mostly girls.
According to the news report, even though the school is named as ‘Darsgah Islami’, it has a modern education syllabus and also imparts religious education. It is a co-educational institution till class five, and class six till class 10, it is an all-girls school. The demolished section of the school includes five classrooms, and a two-storeyed library. The library was named Maulana Abullais Islahi Library, after the former Ameer of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), stated the news report.
The demolition has left 12 classrooms ‘still intact’ but they too are reported to be rendered unfit for use now, as all of them have been badly damaged when the adjacent rooms and the library were demolished. The India Tomorrow portal stated that Maulana Azeem Falahi, who manages the Darsgarh, has said that the “school was launched from a hut in 1950 to fulfill the educational requirement-religious as well as modern-of the local children”. It eventually grew and moved into the pucca building, constructed of steel and concrete from donations, on a piece of land donated by the local villagers.
According to the news report, “during ‘chakbandi’ or land consolidation exercise in Uttar Pradesh in 1971, the school management requested the revenue department officials to allot some land for expansion of the school”. The officials made available about 3,000 square feet of land adjoining the Darsgah, however, mentioned it as a “sports ground” in their government records. At the time school management did not go into the allotment details and went ahead with the construction of additional buildings and also built a library on this portion of the land.
It was in 2016, when a man named Mohammed Ali, a resident of the village, who was living in Bhiwandi in Maharashtra, returned and reportedly joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. He then moved the Allahabad High Court, and sought the removal of the school building and the library that was constructed over the ‘sports ground’. The news portal reported that the HC then referred the matter to Sagari Tehsil, under whose jurisdiction the village is on, and the ‘tehsildar’ or the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), however, gave the verdict in favour of the school.
However, Mohammed Ali challenged the SDM’s verdict in the court of Azamgarh district magistrate (DM) who in October 2019 decided against the school. Meanwhile, added to the news report, the local authorities avoided demolition of the school building. Mohammed Ali then moved the Allahabad High Court, seeking implementation of the DM’s verdict. The school management had also sought a stay on the DM’s order but the HC rejected it.
The school management held several meetings involving elders of the village who tried to convince Mohammed Ali to not insist on the demolition and withdraw his case. Even the local MLA Vandana Singh tried to intervene and the local religious leader, Maulana Falahi even offered to exchange the sports ground with an equal portion of his own land in the village. However, Mohammed Ali rejected the offer and stuck to his demand that the school building be demolished.
Fifteen days ago, Mohammed Ali secured a contempt of court order issued against the SDM for “dilly-dallying in removing ‘encroachment’ from the sports ground”. Then the SDM then got the portion of the school building demolished.
The news reported, added that even after that the teaching work has not stopped, and a few villagers have offered their houses to be converted into classrooms for now.