Teachers and children of government educational institutions in Bengaluru’s RT Nagar area were at loggerheads when the Army arrived on Tuesday demanding that the school building be vacated.
There has been a long-standing land dispute between the Army and five government educational institutions in Matadahalli, RT Nagar, which comprise three upper primary schools, a high school and a junior college with close to 1700 students and 70 teachers.
Unarmed Army officers went to the school around 3pm, demanding that the land be vacated in an hour, based on the June 14 order of the Army estate court directing the occupants to vacate within 15 days.
But school authorities resisted the army’s demands while the students locked themselves up in classrooms. The stand-off between the teachers and parents on one side and the Army on the other lasted until about 6.30 pm.
A student told TOI that they would continue the protest as the education department had failed to warn them about the on-going dispute at the time of admitting them. Other students expressed their concern as the academic year had just begun.
The land was given to the Army by the Mysore Maharaja in 1895 to build a school for soldiers' children. However, an officer said that the land was subsequently encroached upon.
A Army estate court had favoured the Army but the vice-principal of the government college appealed the order in a civil court. The civil court however, recently upheld estate court order, directing the school to return the land to the Army.
Tuesday’s dispute was only resolved with the intervention of Primary and Secondary Education Minister Tanveer Sait who requested the Army to allow the institutions to function until the government made alternative arrangements.
The Times of India quoted the Minister as saying, “The ownership of the land is clearly yours. Officers from the education department have not acted promptly and have misguided the government. We can arrange for alternative land..., but please let the schools continue.”