The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cane fear keeps kid home

Ishani Bhattacharya just refuses to go to school. It’s not because of the burden of books or exam phobia. It’s the fear of the cane that has kept her home all week. And don’t try convincing this six-year-old that less than a fortnight ago, Calcutta High Court had banished caning in class.

Ishani, a student of Class I in Sunny Preparatory School, Behala, is struggling to get over the trauma of being caned by a teacher last Friday. Her father has reported the matter to Behala police station, but there’s no dragging Ishani out of her Kedarnath Chatterjee Road home.

Kasturi Ghosh, the teacher caught in the caning controversy, has denied every allegation. Ghosh said on Thursday that she did not even take that class, let alone thrash Ishani for disobedience. School administrator R.K. Bharatiya backed the teacher, saying an inquiry by the authorities had given her a clean chit. “The girl must be making up the story after hurting herself,” alleged Ghosh.

The hospital’s report, however, appears to corroborate the child’s version. The report stated that Ishani had suffered “haematoma” in two places on her back and an “overlying abrasion”. This, doctors said, was an injury that could only be caused by a “stick-like” object.

The incident took place last Friday when Ishani was to appear for the arithmetic and moral science exams. According to Ishani, Ghosh entered the class around noon, found it quite noisy and ordered all students to “put their heads down on the table”. Ishani admitted that she did not follow the teacher’s instructions. “Kasturi Aunty then came up to me and beat me on my back with a heavy wooden ruler,” said the girl.

Ishani appeared for both the tests, got back home and did not tell anyone about the beating. “When she went to bed after lunch, I found that she could not lie down properly,” recounted Ishani’s grandmother Banani Bhattacharya. “She then told us what she had suffered.”

Ishani’s mother Sonali and grandmother then took her to Vidyasagar Hospital, where she was discharged after medication. The two then went to Ghosh’s residence, where the teacher denied the allegation. The next day, Ishani’s father, Pradip Bhattacharya, went to the Behala police.

Officer-in-charge Subhas Sen said the Alipore SDJM court had been moved for permission to initiate proceedings.

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