Caste divide has been taking its toll on the 95-year-old Cheyyar Boys’ Government Higher Secondary School here for the last three years.
Frequent quarrels and fisticuffs among two groups of students have disturbed the smooth functioning of the school, opening its doors for certain vested interests and political party members to exploit the situation.
The school administration and police officials say that a particular political party and a handful of past pupils had sown the seeds of hatred on caste lines among students.
The situation has turned worse, with the Education Department remaining a mute spectator, taking no measures to solve the issue.
“A bunch of around 20 boys studying in Class XI and XII coming from Kanni Nagar and Venkatarayanpettai are creating problems. The two groups fight outside the school and it continues in the school the next day. Then the fight gets a communal colour. Students come to school armed with knives, iron rods and cycle chains,” rued a teacher on condition of anonymity.
Marching towards a century, the school that was opened on August 27, 1917, had never seen any violence until three years ago.
It all started in the middle of the academic year 2009-2010, when two groups of Class XII students, one belonging to the Dalit community and the other from a dominant community, attacked each other over a trivial issue.
“The boys attacked each other over a love affair. The issue took an ugly turn after outsiders instigated the boys on caste lines. The hatred sown among the students is growing thick and fast, leaving the future of nearly 1,500 other students in a quandary,” lamented a teacher.
On August 21 this year, a group of cadre attached to a political party entered the school campus claiming that a group of students belonging to the dominant community had beaten up students belonging to the other community on August 18.
“The party members came around 10.30 am and made the students belonging to the Dalit community assemble on the campus to show their strength. Though we asked them to settle the issue outside the campus as it was in no way related to the school, they did not pay heed. They stayed here for nearly two hours, disturbing the classes,” the teacher added.
A Class X student said that clashes between Dalit students from Kanni Nagar and the dominant community students from Venkatarayanpettai on the school premises had become common.
“They even started to bring sharp tools, cycle chains and knuckle dusters waiting for an opportunity to take on the other group. The campus has also witnessed more than four to five incidents in which students attacked each other with compass, knife and clubs,” said a teacher.
“It is high time that stern action is taken to save the school from the goons,” he added.