High Court asks Jharkhand to withdraw security forces from schools

November 21st, 2008 - 1:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, Nov 21 (IANS) The Jharkhand High Court has directed the state government to withdraw the security forces staying in schools by the second week of January. The forces were posted to fight Maoist rebels.At present, security forces are staying in 43 government-run schools. Maoist rebels are active in 18 of the 24 districts of Jharkhand.

“We respect the court order. We never wanted to stay in schools. It is duty of the state government to make alternative arrangement for the stay of security forces,” a senior police official involved in anti-Maoist operations told IANS.

A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra and Justice D.K. Sinha, Thursday issued the directive to vacate the schools while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed by Shashi Bhushan Pathak, general secretary of the state unit of the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberty (PUCL).

Pathak in his petition said that the students were suffering as school buildings were occupied by the security forces. He cited examples of a few schools where the forces were staying for more than two decades.

The students are being taught under the open sky and their studies suffer during rainy and winter seasons.

The directive has however put the Jharkhand police officials in a fix. They said if the security forces are withdrawn from the schools posted in Maoist infested districts, it will weaken their fight against rebels.

The police officials said the forces should be shifted to other buildings.

Also, an official said: “At many places the villagers do not allow security forces to vacate the school buildings as they fear threat from Maoist rebels. There have been cases where rebels carried out mass killings after security forces were withdrawn from the villages.”

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