25 years on, Batamaloo school for downtrodden students in ruins

25 years on,  Batamaloo school for downtrodden students in ruins

Ali Muhammad Shah a local said in 1989, the children of sweepers were not enrolled in any school.

A school constructed especially for children of downtrodden families in Batamaloo area here is in ruins for past 25 years due to failure of authorities to revive it and remove encroachments from its land. 

The school was constructed in 1989 by a local social activist H N Wanchoo on over one kanal of land donated by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) near Ziyarat Batamaloo. Named as Workers School Batamaloo, it was exclusively meant for children of downtrodden families of Batamaloo.  

Ali Muhammad Shah a local said in 1989, the children of sweepers were not enrolled in any school. “Poverty was rampant in their houses. Wanchoo fought for their cause and convinced the SMC authorities to allow him to build a school for these downtrodden children so that they could pursue quality education and also have a bright future,” Shah said. 

“Wanchoo, who was working with the SMC, fought for the right of sweepers. He had vast knowledge and always worked to serve the society,” said Manzoor Ahmad, a local who had painted the school building after its construction. 

Locals said the SMC officials provided its land for construction of the school building. “The building was constructed and functional for over a year. However, the school had to be closed after troops occupied it with the onset of political turmoil in the Valley,” Shah added. 

They said the building was vacated by the troops years ago. “We were hopeful that SMC officials would take the land back in their possession and repair the building. In absence of any action, a part of the land was encroached upon by some persons,” they said.

The locals said they had many times approached the senior officials of the SMC to seek revival of the school. “However, we have been only receiving hollow assurances,” they said.

Despite repeated attempts the SMC Commissioner could not be contacted, however his private secretary Hilal Ahmad Shah assured to look into the matter.  “We will take prompt action to restore possession of the land.  However, I am not aware whether SMC has any property in Batamaloo. We will look into the matter and take appropriate action under law,” he added.

Pertinently, in a bid to check encroachment on government land, Tehsildars of Srinagar district were recently empowered to get such structures demolished without notice or nod from any other agency including the civic body.