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When school children of Bengaluru beat the Army back

Tanu Kulkarni

‘Will not surrender’:Children protesting against defence personnel who came to clear ‘encroachments’ in Bengaluru on Tuesday— Photo: K. Bhagya Prakash

Four government schools and a college in Matadahalli near J.C. Nagar here turned into a battleground on Tuesday as parents, students and teachers squared off with defence personnel who attempted to demolish ‘encroachments’ on their land.

Teachers and children — from Class I to Class 12 — locked themselves up in their classrooms from 2.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. to thwart the army personnel. When parents learnt about it, they barged into the campus to take up cudgels on behalf of the children.

The stand-off ended with the army deferring the demolition until the outcome of a meeting between the Karnataka government and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

Over 100 years old

The plot houses a Government Model Primary School (Kannada, Urdu and Tamil medium) and Government High School, and the Government Junior Composite College. The schools were built on army land over a century ago.

Earlier this year, the Defence Estate Officer had sent two notices to ‘the schools to clear the premises and remove the building/immovable structures.’ Both were ignored. The stand-off started when army officers arrived to reclaim the plot. On seeing them, teachers and nearly 1,800 students locked themselves up in classrooms to thwart demolition. Soon hundreds of parents arrived, followed by more army personnel who set a two-hour deadline to clear the area.

With neither side budging, the army personnel set up a tent on the premises while parents surrounded the schools.

Soon, government officials, politicians and Education Department officers arrived to resolve the issue. Students left in batches after the Education Minister intervened to bring about a temporary truce.

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