Until last Friday, Tyagi Education Society’s Indian Education Academy English Medium School in Khadki had a two-acre playground. On Saturday, when the students reached the school they discovered that the army had fenced off the playground. The school management, reportedly, has been fighting a legal battle with the army since 2004 over the ownership of the two-acre playground. “As usual our football team practised at the ground on Friday. But when I came on Saturday, I was stunned to see that the ground was fenced and some army men, with their weapons, were placed at the ground,” a class VIII student said.
Tyagi Education Society Manager Samrat Tyagi said the Tyagi family has owned this land since 1984 and built a school here in 1996. “The entire three acres — land on which the school building stands and the ground — is an old grant property and we have enough documents to prove that the land belongs to us,” Tyagi said. He alleged that army personnel illegally fenced the ground. “None of the army officials intimated us about this. Around 400 armed men forcefully fenced the ground on Friday evening,” Tyagi said.
He said the army personnel first visited the property way back in 1993. After that the army did not do anything for ten years. But in 2003, some of its officials visited the ground and mapped it. “Though the officials didn’t disclose their purpose of visit, we realised that something was amiss following which we filed a case in civil court on January 9, 2004,” Tyagi said.
The civil court in its September 5, 2006, order stated: “It is hereby declared that the acts of the defendants (Army) in attempting to erect fence and evict the plaintiff (school management) from the part of the suit premises is illegal and contrary to the law. Defendants (Army) are hereby permanently restrained from fencing to the playground without following the due process of law.”
Estate Officer at Commander of Station Headquarters, Khadki, Brigadier Balraj Singh said everything was done as per the law. “We have not touched the school building. It is A1 defence land and we need it for defence training purposes,” Singh said. “The rules under which the action was taken are correct. We have given enough chance to the school authorities to explain their side.”
The army also issued a statement on Tuesday evening, clarifying their stand on the issue. Defence Public Relations Officer Sanjay Arvikar issued the statement. The statement read: “Mr Satish Jaysing Tyagi under Tyagi Educational Institute is running a School in Bungalow No 29 A at Khadki. The school complex is housed in an Old Grant Bungalow meant for residential purpose. The school is therefore being run in an unauthorised manner, as the permission for change of purpose has not been obtained from the Defence Estate Officer. This Defence land was being used by the school in unauthorised manner.
In October 2011, the Estate Officer had issued letters to the Satish Jaysing Tyagi for hearing of the case under PPE Act and eight hearings were conducted by the Estate Officer in order to provide due opportunity to him. After considering all facts of the case, the Estate Officer gave his orders on September 21, 2012. On the orders of the Estate Officer, the army unit responsible to safeguard the said land carried out the fencing of the A1 Defence Land. The army has fenced only the portion of the land which belongs to it and is responsible for its safeguard.”