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Uttarakhand school principal suspended day after shouting match with CM Rawat

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Uttara Bahuguna tells ThePrint she was rude only after ‘they started hurling abuses and making allegations about how I was thief’.

New Delhi: A primary school principal in Uttarakhand was suspended Friday, a day after she got into a shouting match with chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat over a transfer request at an event in Dehradun.

Speaking to ThePrint, Uttara Bahuguna said the suspension order is yet to reach her.

“We have only heard of the order as yet. We’ll now wait and see what the order says. After assessing the contents of the order, we will take a call on the future course of action,” she said.

Bahuguna said going to court is an option.

Trouble started Thursday, when Bahuguna, armed with her transfer order, landed up at Rawat’s Janata Durbar event in Dehradun. She wanted the CM’s intervention in her transfer from the remote location of Nagaon, a district in Uttarkashi.

In the video that went viral, Bahuguna can be seen asking the chief minister to consider her transfer since as she “cannot leave her children orphaned”. She accuses Rawat of promoting ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ and still sending “a daughter for vanvas (exile in forest).”

Rawat is then seen chastising her for behaviour unbecoming of a teacher. The CM then proceeds to say that he will suspend her for her behaviour.

Bahuguna said she wasn’t rude initially. “That happened only after they tried to push me out of the room,” she said.

“Only after they started hurling abuses and making allegations about how I was thief, did I retort. Yes, I said it. I said how could I be a thief when the real ones sitting in chairs on the stage,” she said.

Issue over transfer

Bahuguna believes she has been unfairly treated by the government when she was transferred to Nagaon three years ago.

In 2015, after her then school near Jogath fell vacant, she filed a closure report. “As of May 2015, there were no students left in that school. I locked up and left. However, in June, I was transferred to Nagaon and someone else took over there. Did they take over an empty school? There is hardly any chance admissions could have been conducted in the month of June when everything was shut,” she said.

Bahuguna joined as teacher in 1993 and took over as the principal of a primary school in Jogath in 2003. She has been working in remote locations in Uttarakhand ever since. She has two children, Shubhangi (23) and Shubham (21), who study in Dehradun.

“No proper investigation was conducted. I don’t even understand how suddenly someone else could be appointed in an empty school. For two years, that person continued to draw a salary. Only last year, after a huge hue and cry was raised over running an empty school, was the school shut down,” Bahuguna told ThePrint.

“My husband passed away in August 2015. All I wanted was for the chief minister to understand my situation. I’m doing this for my children, I thought he would consider that and instead I was manhandled by the police,” Bahuguna said.

“I learnt about the Janata Durbar on Facebook early morning. Immediately, I got dressed and headed to the location. I was carrying my transfer application with me,” she told ThePrint.

Corruption claims

Bahuguna said she did sign a bond with the government at the time of employment, like everyone else. However, she will now attempt to collect data regarding those principals who have been transferred despite signing the same bond.

The bond binds the signee to working in schools in such hill-stations till the government sees fit to transfer them.

“Caught in this web of corruption, I’m the one who has suffered for the last 25 years. All I want is to be close to my children,” she said. “My track record will show you that I’m a person who conducts herself very well. I was a state-level athletics player. I have been a good employee and a good teacher, yet I was mistreated,” she said.

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  1. Seeing this video clip, thoughts went back to another incident about which I read recently. In the immediate aftermath of partition, a distraught woman caught Nehruji’s collar and asked him angrily, What exactly has this freedom and democracy brought us ? It has given you the right to catch hold of the Prime Minister by his collar and question him, the great man replied. And some are now questioning why Pandit Nehru received the Bharat Ratna.

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