This is a passage from an attempted ebook – In Gray and White. It is put here verbatim. The curfew vacation was a significant event in our Class III year – 1994. Please note that what I have written is based on personal experience and hearsay. It may be total hogwash!!
It was in the September of 1994 that we got the first idea of something strange going about. Actually something fishy had been going on for the past 2 weeks. For the whole of the last week we had been getting bread slices instead of chapattis, which implied shortage of cooking gas. Normally it resulted from landslides, which were common during the monsoons. However, this time this shortage had gone a bit too long. Then came the real signal.
One day, the teachers’ day cultural programme of JS was cut short, to make announcement for an urgent combined assembly in the auditorium. Combined assembly meant aggregation of all the three wings of the school under the command of the Principal himself. It meant something really important. Soon the audi was jam packed. Some distinguished looking men attired in khadi occupied the dais along with the principal. They were discussing something called Uttarakhand Movement. Actually the renegade factions and hardliner political activists of the hills were demanding a separate state for themselves, which was to be carved out of the northern head of the province of Uttar Pradesh. For us it was another sleep-session, for we could not make head or tail of the grand talks. However, the idea was grand and novel. A new state’s conception was being witnessed. It was like being in the days of freedom movement. Our seniors seemed quite agitated. They were to be sent in a rally to Mussoorie. We came to know later that our erstwhile Principal had strong sympathy with the agitators. However, his love for the hillmen had nearly sent many Oakgrovians into the jaws of death (or would it have been called martyrdom ). Because on the day next to the rally day, police had opened fire on the agitators in Mussoorie, killing nine and injuring scores.
It was learnt later that police was all prepared to fire on the rally day itself. However, due to shortage of ammunition (or sufficient back-up, I do not remember the exact cause) the operation had been called off in the last few minutes. May be it was the luck of OG guys that they escaped the police bullets, but many were not so lucky. The killings added fuel to the fire, and it developed into a conflagration that was about to devour the whole of the hills soon. The movements gained momentum. Mass strikes were called. Chakka-jams (transport strikes) paralysed the whole area. The shortage of gas resulted from these strikes only. We in JS were insulated from these developments, and the dirty details were kept away from our innocent ears. We depended on whatever snatches of conversation we could hear by eavesdropping on bearers and matrons. But even the JS authorities with all their tight-lipped professionalism could not keep us shielded for long.
Soon we were witness to Khadi-clads walking in the corridor, talking to HM and the teachers. Soon our classes were suspended. We were told to do whatever we liked, provided that we kept shut. So we occupied ourselves with comics and novels. Even this routine could not be continued for long. The agitators were hell bent on getting all the residential schools of the hills and the valley closed, and it seemed that almost all the schools had already complied. Only OG stood defiant, and even she could not remain so for long. After two days of suspended studies, the central administration yielded under the pressure from the Board of Governors. Urgent telegrams were sent to all the parents- ‘The school is being closed due to disturbance and curfew. Proceed to escort your ward home.’ (Those were the days when telegrams were still in use.)
– Raveesh Gupta.
1990s Raveesh Gupta