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Tired of government apathy, Barnala villagers take to the streets for school upgradation

The residents of Barnala were forced to take to the streets after over a month of speaking to the authorities failed. The villagers put up banners boycotting political parties for turning a deaf ear to their demand.

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Residents of Dhaula village in Barnala district blocked the Barnala-Mansa road for nearly 2 hours on Sunday last week seeking upgradation of the village school from high to senior secondary level.

The residents of the native village of former Punjab chief minister Surjit Singh Barnala were forced to take to the streets after over a month of speaking to the authorities yielded no results. The villagers also put up banners boycotting political parties for turning a deaf ear to their demand.

Apart from Surjit Singh Barnala, Dhaula is also the native village of literature luminary and Sahitya Akademy Award winner writer late Ram Sarup Ankhi. The village had also shot in the limelight earlier in 2005-2006 when farmer organisation BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) had fought a sustained struggle against the state government for acquiring land for industrial house Trident Group.

The unique aspect about the villagers struggle is that they have organised themselves in a school upgrade action committee and have decided to intensify their struggle. "We are protesting for over a month now with a just and genuine demand of upgradation of the high school to senior secondary level. We have met the authorities concerned several times on the issue. In the absence of a senior secondary school, the students have to travel either to Barnala or Rureke village. The political leaders and administrative officials had last month assured us that the school would soon be upgraded, but nothing has been done so far and the next school session has already started. We will not sit back till our demand is met," said committee member Gursewak Singh.

Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal's former principal secretary and SAD leader Darbara Singh Guru, who looks after the area as constituency in charge, said, "I have raised the issue with education minister Daljit Singh Cheema and we are making efforts for upgrading the school."

Barnala deputy commissioner Bhupinder Singh said, "The proposal to upgrade the school has been forwarded to the state government and I am hopeful that a decision would soon be taken in this regard."

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It is heartening to see when citizens refuse to take political apathy and force the establishment to not only take notice but also take necessary steps. An inspiration for other states.    

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