A day before when students from different schools are set to participate in January 26 function, two girls from Government Higher Secondary School, Amira Kadal, Srinagar alleged school authorities of “befooling” them on the pretext of getting them scholarships.
The written complaint (a copy of which lies with Kashmir Life), was filed by one Ms Jabeen, mother of Tabiya, a 12th standard student at the said school, alleging that Rozy, Physical Education teacher in Government Higher Secondary School, Amira Kadal, helped them get in touch with Rashid Barki, coordinator of Centre for Cultural Resource and Training (CCET), a Government of India scholarship programme to facilitate young children to develop their talents in various artistic fields. Barki is CCET’s Srinagar coordinator.
The complaint reads, “Ms Rozy gave contact number of Rashid Barki, self-claimed Director of Radio Kashmir, Srinagar, to the students telling them that Barki will enable them to participate in cultural programmes.”
“The girls were told by Barki to meet him outside the Govt Women’s College, MA Road on 9th of January 2015. Barki board us with our mothers in a local sumo and carried to New Theed, Harwan but on the way he nowhere stopped the said sumo near none of the school though he told that there is some school programme,” the complaint letter reads.
“At New Theed the sumo stopped and Barki told us to come in some house,” writes Jabeen in her complaint. “But only I entered into the house at New Theed wherein I found six youths above 20 years old and I returned outside and cried and took both the students Bisma and Tabiya back to the Government Higher Secondary School, Amira Kadal where I narrated the whole episode to the principal of the school.” The complaint further reads, “The principal in turn replied that there was no such programme scheduled by the school.”
Jabeen has further mentioned in her complaint that, “Had I not returned from said house and carried the students (Bisma and Tabiya) along with me, there would have cause some problem for these students. In this way the mothers of the complainant herein developed fear about the daughters in the school.”
When contacted Rashid Barki, coordinator CCRT’s Srinagar chapter, said, “every year, 8 students, under the age of 15, are selected for scholarship by CCRT. These scholarships are given on the merit that students have know-how of Kashmiri folk, art or culture in any way.”
“The names of these two students (Bisma and Tabiya) were suggested by Rozy and on her request I took them to New Theed in a public sumo where we have a small gathering of students every Sunday for practice. The said house belongs to a student named Arif, who himself is preparing for the scholarship and a music lover,” Barki said. “There were twenty other students inside that house. You can confirm it from them,” Barki, who is currently in Jaipur, said.
Once selected for CCRT, where students are given Rs 500 per month for a period of two years, they have to appear for interview once again to get an extension. “It is a routine process. There is nothing fishy whatsoever in this. I don’t know why this lady (Jabeen) is making hue and cry,” Barki added. “She wanted to get these girls through without the formal interview and audition, which I denied. Maybe that might have irked her.”
When contacted by Kashmir Life, Jabeen denied filing any such complaint whatsoever. “I am not the only Jabeen in Kashmir with daughter named Tabiya. Go and check it with Director Education.”
Rozy, the Physical Education teacher who is accused of facilitating the students meeting with Barki said one of the two students had an impressive performance in a skit that Kothibagh Higher secondary hosted in September 2015. “After the function, Barki and many others approached the candidate and suggested her performance was good and she would be encouraged by way of giving her a scholarship,” Rozy said. “For next four months Bisma was coming to me quite frequently for the follow up and finally I gave her the number of Barki with an advice that she must seek consent from her parents first.”
Rozy further said that on January 6, the two girls came to her informing that Bisma was selected for the participation. “Next I got a call on January 9 from Bisma, saying they were taken to Harwan by Barki and they felt threatened,” Rozy said, “I told them to report back to school immediately and that is it.”
Both the girl students rushed to school and narrated the entire episode to the principal.
In the meanwhile, Director Education Shah Faesal has initiated an enquiry into the matter to “clear the misconception”. The enquiry committee is headed by Principal S P Higher Secondary School and OSD (CEW) of DSEK. “As of now in the written complaint, there are no allegations of sexual harassment,” Shah Faesal, Director Education wrote on a social networking website. “Please wait for the facts to come out. It is a very sensitive issue and hasty conclusions can be extremely damaging.”
(The names of the students have been changed.)