Going to school shouldn't feel like a battle, but for some students of Government Girls Senior School in Manesar, it does.
On their way to the school, these girls have been harassed daily. And, all this while, their incessant complaints fell on deaf ears.
Fed up of this, five girls approached the Punjab and HaryanaHigh Court earlier this week demanding safe environment.
The girls' school shares compound with three other schools
A Times of Indiareport brought the girls' ordeal to fore. The school, wherein some 600 girls study, isn't the only institute around.
It shares its compound with three other schools- two for boys and a primary school for girls.
Not only this, but the compound also nestles a health center, a post office, and the panchayat building.
Walking to school is an ordeal for the girls
Now, the problem is that the girls' school is farthest from the gates.
It is located at a picturesque spot having a lush green carpet on one side, and a leafy pathway on the other.
To reach the school, girls have to walk for nearly 300 meter on the pathway, and this is nothing short of a nightmare for them.
Idlers sit in park, have drinks, and harass girls
The idlers sitting in the park pass comments, stare and even abuse the girls. Catcalling is also extremely common. Some of them even drink there.
Since the school has a dearth of guards, no one keeps a check on who enters the compound.
To note, the compound is barely 50 meters away from IMT Manesar, where global and Indian companies have a presence.
To 'stop' harassment, school started conducting games classes indoors
When girls complained about the harassment, the teachers found a peculiar solution- conduct games classes indoors.
Apart from people in the park, those who come to panchayat building or health center, also peep through windows making the students uncomfortable.
Somehow the girls were putting up with the harassment but on July 12, something unprecedented happened, prompting five of them to knock court's doors.
School was vandalized, chairs and tables turned upside down
When the girls came to school, they found that locks of the doors were broken, chairs and tables turned upside down, and black paint was smeared on maps of India and Haryana.
Realizing that the problem has gotten out of hands, they moved court.
Class XII student Kavita Singh, who is one of the petitioners, asked how can anyone feel safe there.
The problem is real
"Earlier, they would harass us on the ground and the road leading to our school. Now, they have started entering our compound and peeping into classrooms. Teachers keep telling us we should not worry and continue coming to school," Singh told the daily.
Apparently, the harassment isn't hidden from anyone
Separately, another student said this has been going on for two years now. Their parents approached the district education officer and police too, but to no avail.
Ram Avtar, a former sarpanch, said the issue is genuine. He said the public park was a hub of anti-social activities.
"The girls naturally do not feel safe in such an environment," he added.
Let down by police, girls hope court will do something
Avtar said school authorities filed a complaint after the vandalizing incident.
Last year too, a couple of theft incidents happened in school but the police didn't take concrete steps. Though an officer at Manesar police station said an investigation is underway to nab accused, the girls have little faith.
Meanwhile, the High Court has accepted their petition.