KOZHIKODE: At a time when protests seeking action against three teachers and a peon of Chembukadavu Government UP School are mounting after they allegedly tried to smuggle liquor from Mahe into the state while on an excursion with students, the Excise Department has said the teachers had no role in the incident.
The Excise Department’s statement assumes significance as the office of the Deputy Director of Education (DDE) had said it will initiate action against those involved in the incident only after getting the Excise report.
First some background: On March 5, parents of the students approached the school after their wards told them about an Excise ‘raid’ on their bus while they were returning from a picnic trip in Mahe on March 3. Liquor bottles were seized from the bus. It was alleged the bottles were recovered from the bags of students. Basing their statements on the students’ accounts, the parents said the teachers purchased the liquor from Mahe.
On Thursday, Azhiyur Excise check-post inspector P Junaid confirmed two bottles of liquor were seized from a bag from the bus during an inspection. “However, the bag belonged to the office attender who was on the bus. None of the teachers are involved in the incident,” Junaid told Express.
He said: “We seized the bottles as part of routine inspection at the check-post. The bottles were inside the office attender’s bag which was hidden among students’ bags.” Junaid said the seized bottles were Kerala manufactured and were not bought at Mahe. “So, we did not register a case. But we warned the office attender not to repeat this,” he said.
Parents beg to differ
KM Basheer, a parent, said parents got wind of the incident after their kids told them.
“Our kids clearly told us the bus was stopped at Mahe while they were returning from Kannur after the picnic. They said the teachers de-boarded with the office attender’s bag to buy liquor. When the bus reached Azhiyur Excise officers – perhaps acting on a tip-off – raided the bus and checked all the bags, including those of the students. The bag of the office attender containing the liquor was seized,” Basheer said.
“The officers took the teachers, the office attender and the PTA president to the station and questioned them. The officers released the bus after three hours. Our kids reached home around 11 pm instead of 8 pm, as we were earlier informed,” he said.
While he said the Excise officers may have let the teachers go after a warning and released the bus considering the students, he refused to believe the liquor was not bought from Mahe. “Who will buy liquor from some other place when it is available at cheaper rates in Mahe? Even if they did buy it from somewhere else, is it right on the teachers’ part to carry liquor while they are on picnic with students who are studying in Classes III to VII?” he asked.
Parents of several students have demanded action against the teachers. “We will not allow the teachers to continue teaching in the school from the next academic year. They should be transferred,” said Basheer.
The panchayat president has called a meeting to discuss the controversial issue. Basheer said parents, teachers and officers from the Education and Police Departments will attend the meeting. “We will demand strong action against erring faculty members. The PTA president should resign,” Basheer said.
Childline submits report
Childline has submitted a report on the issue to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). “The report was prepared on the basis of the students’ statements,” said Childline coordinator C P Semijas.
CWC awaiting police report
District CWC chairman K Rajan said they were waiting for the police report on the incident. “Prima facie, the case is extremely serious. We will take strong action against the accused if they are found guilty,” he said.