At least 500 people gathered outside a North Delhi Municipal Corporation school pelted stones and broke open the gates after finding out that no ration was being distributed, Hindustan Times reported on Friday. The school at Prem Nagar in Rohini is a temporary ration distribution centre. Police also arrested a local, Lal Kishan, who was later released on bail.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Rohini) Pramod Kumar Mishra said that Kishan, a resident of Prem Nagar Phase III, was forced to return home without ration for two days. “On the third day, after again not managing to get ration, he got agitated, picked up some stones from nearby railway tracks and started throwing them at the school building,” Mishra said. “Seeing him, some other agitated locals also joined in.”
The deputy commissioner added that the crowd was dispersed and Kishan was put under preventive custody. “He was released on bail the next day. There was no official complaint from any authority,” Mishra said.
However, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Rohini) Pramod Kumar Mishra told the newspaper that the incident took place on May 7, but a video of stone pelting was circulated on social media on Thursday.
The Delhi government has been distributing ration since April to provide relief to the poor during the nationwide lockdown put in place to curb the coronavirus outbreak. Rice and wheat flour are part of the kit, and over 1,000 government and corporation schools have been functioning as Hunger Relief Centres and Ration Centres. More than 40,000 Delhi government teachers are involved in relief work at the centres, which function every day between 8 am and 6 pm. However, a recent Delhi government notification said that all schools turned into ration centres will be shut every Thursday.
General Secretary of Municipal Corporation of Delhi Teachers’ Union Ramniwas Solanki said that around 500 people were agitated after finding out that the gates of the school were shut. “It [Thursday] was declared a ‘Closing Day’ on which no ration will be distributed,” Solanki said, adding that the teachers had to take stock of how much ration has been received from godowns and how much had been distributed in the last one month. They are required to send reports to the Delhi government.
Principal of the Nagar Nigam Prathmik Bal Vidyalaya Bharat Lal Meena said that they had already displayed a board outside the gate saying that no ration will be distributed on Thursday. “The crowd that turned up in the morning wasn’t ready to go back empty-handed,” Meena said. “First, the men abused us. They then started pelting stones and broke a classroom’s window. We had to hide some of our female colleagues and call the police for help,” he added.
North Corporation Commissioner Varsha Joshi said they will write to the Food Supply and Consumer Affairs Department of Delhi Government. “The concerned deputy commissioners and additional directors of education (of the corporation) have regularly raked up the issues being faced by teachers on duty, but to no avail,” she said, adding that these issues have been cropping up due to non-availability of a proper list or non-availability of ration.
Solanki said he wrote to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal about the security of teachers and also asked that they be tested for the coronavirus, reported The Indian Express.
An unidentified senior government official told Hindustan Times that the food and civil supplies department has taken cognisance of the matter and the issue will be resolved at the earliest. “This month, around 2.5 million individuals, who do not possess ration cards, have availed essentials under the special scheme,” the official said. “Ration is distributed to all centres from central storehouses in every district. The demand and supply across all centres is taken into account.”
Separately, on Thursday, hundreds of migrant workers staged a protest in Sendhwa town on the Madhya Pradesh-Maharashtra border, demanding food and transport arrangements to go back home. Eyewitnesses told PTI that the migrant workers threw stones at the police personnel deployed at the spot.
Earlier on Monday, six teachers who were handing out ration at a South Delhi Municipal Corporation school in Tigri were allegedly manhandled by a crowd.
Scores of migrant labourers have been stranded across the country owing to the lockdown. After much criticism from the Opposition, the government finally started running ‘Shramik Special’ trains since May 1 to take the migrants home. However, many still continue to walk along state highways.