Schoolkids’ scuffle snowballs, parties protest police action

August 26th, 2008 - 7:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Agra, Aug 26 (IANS) A minor scuffle among schoolchildren in Agra has snowballed into a full-scale controversy as the police slapped a group of children with offences under a law to prevent atrocities against Scheduled Castes, and all major political parties - except Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) - jumped into the fray. It was three days ago that Ramesh Soni complained to the Jagdishpura police station that a group of students had beaten and abused his 14-year-old son, all students of the Simpkins School, and hurled derogatory remarks at him.

The police registered a case under the ‘Harijan Act’, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, against a dozen students including two sons of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Raj Kumar Chahar.

According to school sources, it was just a routine fight among children, one which could have been easily resolved without politicians getting involved.

Now Jat community leaders in the area have demanded the first information report (FIR) be scrapped.

Local MP and cine-star Raj Babbar Tuesday threatened to launch an agitation later this week if the case was not withdrawn.

“This is clearly a limit - implicating schoolchildren at the behest of casteist elements,” Babbar said.

BJP leaders held a meeting here Tuesday and said the FIR only demonstrated how the law was being misused. BJP state secretary Mahendra Singh has briefed party chief Rajnath Singh on the controversy.

A Dalit leader not wanting to be identified said: “Obviously the BJP is trying to consolidate anti-dalit sentiment and strengthen its base in the Jat belt of Chahar wati.”

Social activist Netra Pal Singh said: “The city was suffering from so many other problems, these politicians should have focused on better living conditions for people. Instead they are raking up non-issues ahead of the polls.”

Fatehabad legislator Rajendra Singh condemned the “fabricated” case and wanted the charges dropped. “Children are above castes and classes. They do not even understand the meaning of certain words,” he said.

The Congress, Jan Morcha and Samajwadi Party too have protested.

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