In a restive place like Kashmir, where getting labelled as stone-pelter can invite government fury and imprisonment for years, a private school has allegedly played this card against a parent just to settle personal scores over fee row.

Recently New Convent High School, a private school in the summer capital of Srinagar, barred two of its students, a sibling duo, Laiba Shabir of Upper Kindergarten and her brother Farhal Shabir of Fourth grade from entering the school campus. Their father Shabir Ahmed was shocked at the bizarre decision. As the school authorities remained reluctant to revoke the orders, the family sought the intervention of the Joint Director Education who ultimately served notice to the school.

The reply was shocking. Apart from putting allegations like being rude, the school has declared the parents as the one who “instigates the children to pelt stones in the school.” The government took the allegations of stone pelting seriously and started an inquiry to see if “the parents were really a threat to the educational system.” During the inquiry, it was learnt that Shabir Ahmed also heads the parents association at the school and had been at loggerheads with the school authorities over the demand of “undue fee” during the unrest in 2016.

Shabir said that as he continued to resist the “fleecing of parents over fee”, the school management started putting personal allegations against him by labelling him as a stone pelter.

Officials say that the “use of term stone pelting has changed the dimensions of the case.” “See basically a simple issue has been snowballed into a case of stone pelting by the school authorities and such a heinous allegation can have far-reaching consequences.”

While the school authorities are unwilling to talk to media, the aggrieved community of parents has demanded a police probe over “branding of an innocent as stone pelter.”

However, the Police has reservations to volunteer for an inquiry. It said that it’s between the devil and the deep sea situation.

“See it has almost become a routine (in Kashmir) that to settle personal scores you label someone as stone pelter. But we cannot act unless either of the parties comes forward with a formal complaint because if we do so, the case may fall into another controversy where there’s a trend to label this place as a police state,” Superintendent of Police Ashish Mishra told InUth.