For more than two weeks now, scores of parents of students studying in the Al Ameen Public School in Edapally have been holding protests and demanding a reduction in the fees. However, the standing protest on Tuesday was disrupted by the police who manhandled parents in a bid to remove them from in front of the school.
Multiple videos from the spot show around 15 parents including a woman standing outside the school with placards in their hands. Soon, a policeman tried to remove one of them and another parent objects. The issue then escalates and a police officer can be seen pushing a parent into the jeep. He and other parents object and repeatedly say that they were protesting peacefully and have a genuine demand.
The policeman who gets agitated all of a sudden keeps saying âwe will take one of you with usâ and grabs another parent. The worried parent tries to escape the policemanâs clutches. The policeman runs behind the parents, manhandles him and pulls him by the shirt in a bid to drag him into the police vehicle. Many parents can be heard protesting and saying that the police cannot remove just one person and says they should all be arrested instead. In the videos, the policeman can be heard issuing veiled threats that the protest cannot continue.
It is unclear why the police decided to stop the protest, in the videos they can be heard saying that they were following a court order. The parents however seem to be unaware of any such order. A source said that the police were tipped off that members of a political party would be part of protest.
The parents, many of whom are gulf returnees, had been demanding a 50 percent reduction in fees due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation. Talking to TNM, parents stated at least three of them have been injured in Tuesdayâs tussle with police.
âSince the past 17 days, a group of 15 to 20 parents have been protesting in front of the school everyday for half an hour. Though most days there was some police presence there, on Tuesday, the police team was led by a Sub Inspector. And straightway he started to pull one of the parents towards the jeep. Seeing this, others resisted. At least three of us have sustained injuries. One parent even has a fracture on his leg,â Shameena Siddique, parent of two students studying in the school, says from a private hospital in Kochi.
Shameena, who has been taken into custody with two other parents alleged that she was hit on back by one of the police officers.
The parents also alleged that school officials have withheld the answer papers of a recent examination for students (Class 9 to 12) who havenât paid their fees.
âAt least twice, we have approached the management asking for an amicable meeting to solve the issue. But they behaved very rudely with us asking us to take our children elsewhere if we cannot pay the fees,â says Kalam, one of the parents.
According to the parents, the annual fee for class seven is Rs 24,348. âThe only reduction they announced was three percent, which amounts to Rs 300 in the case of a class seven student,â said Kalam.
Meanwhile, Elamakkara police officials who took the three parents into custody told TNM that details of the case cannot be disclosed at the moment. Though an official said arrests have been registered, he did not mention under which sections the arrests were made.
Al Ameen school is run by the Al-Ameen Educational Trust, owned by film producer AA Siyad Koker. The school has been in controversy before when it terminated a teacher who exposed misappropriation of teachers salaries.