Was following official orders: Principal after video of students cleaning toilets

Days after a primary school principal in Ballia was suspended after a purported video of him getting students to clean toilets in the school went viral, he claimed on Sunday that he was only following official orders “to get the whole school, including toilets, cleaned by teachers and students for the Swachchta Pakhwada”.

Principal of Ballia’s Piprikala-I Primary School Mrityunjay Singh was suspended from his duties on Thursday but he claimed that he hasn’t received the suspension orders yet.

“On September 3, I received an order from the Block Education Officer that all schools must participate in the programme and that all students and teachers should be a part of it. I also cleaned toilets with the students. The order from the Block Education Officer stated that all rooms in the school, including toilets , must be cleaned. But, two assistant teachers – Ajit Rai and Maya Devi – shot a video showing me telling students to clean the toilets and then shared it on social media. I was not given a chance to explain myself and was suspended. I still haven’t received the suspension orders, but was told by media persons that I have been suspended,” he said.

“The two teachers uploaded the video because I have objected to their work ethics. When I objected to their being late to school, they didn’t like it. I have also stopped their salaries over the issue,” he added.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Ballia Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) Maniram Singh said, “When the incident came to light and the video went viral, a decision was taken to take action against the principal. He was later suspended.”

On being asked if the administration had issued an order for schools to involve even students in cleaning the toilets, he said, “Yes, a cleanliness drive is in progress, but the orders sent to schools didn’t state that the toilets were to be cleaned by the students. The orders didn’t use the word toilets. How the toilets were to be cleaned is something the principal should have known. They should have been cleaned by sanitation workers.”

Reacting to the allegations levelled by the suspended principal, he said, “The incident is being probed by a committee headed by Block Officer Ratna Shankar Pandey. The suspended principal and all others will get a chance to explain themselves and, accordingly a decision will be made.”

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