After sparking much anger, the Karnataka Forest Department, on Tuesday, withdrew a controversial circular it had earlier issued with regard to the children of mahouts and the Kavadi community, which had declared that the kids could only study in government schools and not private schools.
On March 15, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Punati Sridhar, had issued a circular to forest officers across the state to the effect that the children of mahouts and members of the Kavadi community were to be enrolled in government schools only and not in private schools.
â€śMahouts and Kavadis are sending their children to distant private schools, which is adversely affecting government work, forest and wildlife conservation,â€ť the circular states.
â€śMahouts and Kavadis working in various divisions and forest ranges are not enrolling their children in government schools, although they are closer to their place of work. Instead, they are enrolling them in distant private schools. Therefore, to ensure the welfare of forest and wildlife conservation, mahouts and Kavadis have been hereby ordered to enrol their children in government schools, which is in the proximity of their residence or place of employment from the following academic year,â€ť the order adds.
Outraged mahouts and members of the Kavadi community, along with activists, condemned the Departmentâ€™s actions, by calling it a conspiracy, saying it â€śinfringed on the freedom of students in the stateâ€ť.
An official in the Forest Department, who didnâ€™t wish to be named, said the mahouts alleged that the circular was issued to ensure their children didnâ€™t receive quality education and a second generation of mahouts was thus guaranteed.
â€śThe mahouts were angry and stated that the Department was trying to take away their childrenâ€™s right to quality education. It was definitely a mistake on behalf of the Department as it has no authority to tell the mahouts which school they have to enrol their children in. The mahouts alleged that the department was trying to stop their children from getting educated just to ensure that the Department has a second generation of mahouts. We held a meeting with a few activists and the circular was withdrawn,â€ť the official said.
Following the outrage by the mahouts and members of the Kavadi community, C Jayaram, the Chief Conservator of Forests, said that the circular had been withdrawn on Tuesday.
â€śThere was a clear miscommunication in the circular. We have issued a new circular on Tuesday. The intention was to ensure that children of all mahouts and Kavadis were compulsorily enrolled in a school. Many of them do not send their children to schools at all. The department wanted to ensure that all the kids join schools. There has been some miscommunication and we have sorted it out, and issued a fresh circular,â€ť he said.