CHANDIGARH: Nearly 90 girl students in Haryana's Rewari district, who had been striking for over a week -- some of them on hunger strike -- for upgradation of their school to senior secondary level, today called off their stir after the government ceded to their demand.
Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said a notification has been issued for upgrading the Government High School at the Gothra Tappa Dahina village.
A principal has been deputed there and the admission process commences tomorrow, he said in a press conference today.
The group of 86 girls of class IX and X had gone on an indefinite strike, which lasted for over a week, demanding upgradation of the school in their village, saying they would have to face harassment and even molestation while travelling to a senior secondary school three kms away.
Thirteen of them were on hunger strike. The health of most of the fasting girls had deteriorated.
Despite Sharma assuring them on Monday that the school would be upgraded, the students had continued with the stir, saying that until they received official word from the government, they would not relent.
With news pouring in that the government had issued the formal notification, there were scenes of jubilation as the girls called off their stir.
Officials of the Rewari district administration and those from the education department offered a glass of juice to the girls who were on hunger strike.
"We are happy that our efforts have yielded fruit," said a beaming girl student who had sat on fast.
For higher education after Class X, girls of the village had to go to Kanwali village, located 3 km from Gothra Tappa Dahina, village head Suresh Chauhan said.
"We fear harassment and molestation by youths of other villages and hence, we are demanding upgradation of our school up to Class XII," one of the protestors had earlier said.
Officials had earlier said the school could not be upgraded as it did not meet the condition of a minimum of 150 students required for the senior secondary level.
The education minister today said the rules had been relaxed after discussion with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and the Additional Chief Secretary of the school education department, P K Das.
Asked to comment on the harassment of girls by antisocial elements while going to other villages for studies, Das said that besides the state government, it is also the responsibility of Panchayats and other prominent people of the village to come forward to confront such elements.
Haryana has one of the lowest Child Sex Ratios (CSR) in the country. The state has also witnessed horrific crimes against women in the recent past, including the gangrape and killing of a 23-year-old woman, and the rape of a minor girl by her stepfather.
Opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Abhay Singh Chautala told reporters today that the BJP government, which had tom-tommed the 'Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao' campaign, had failed to assure the girl students, due to which the condition of many of the students on fast had deteriorated.
"This government is failing in its duty. This means people have no faith in this government as people are not ready to even believe and take assurance of a senior Minister (Ram Bilas Sharma) on face value," Chautala said.