Krishnagar, Dec. 24: Seven-year-old Agniraj Chatterjee left for school as usual around 8 this morning. A couple of hours later, he was escorted back, shivering in shock, his face swollen and blood trickling down his nose.
His Bengali teacher had punched and battered him for talking in class. He was apparently arguing with a friend about who would score the highest in an oral test.
Agniraj's father, Jayanta, lodged a complaint with the police and the school authorities. Additional superintendent of police Biswarup Ghosh said a hunt is on for the teacher, Pradip Ghosh, who is absconding.
Corporal punishment is banned in Bengal.
Agniraj, a Class II student of Krishnagar High School, was talking to a classmate as Ghosh was quizzing a group of students around his desk, said another classmate Srinjoy Biswas.
'Actually, they were having a bet on who would get the highest mark between the two. Mastermoshai heard them talk and became very angry,' said Srinjoy.
He said the teacher rushed to Agniraj, beat him up and punched him on the nose. The blow felled Agniraj, who started crying. Attracted by his cries, students and teachers from other classes rushed in. Headmaster Ashim Chakraborty was informed.
In the confusion, Ghosh left quietly. He could not be traced till this evening.
Headmaster Chakraborty took the bleeding Agniraj to the sick room and tried to stem the bleeding. An hour later, he sent the trembling boy home with a school employee.
Jayanta, a medical representative, rushed to the school and demanded immediate action against Ghosh. 'I want the teacher to be given exemplary punishment. How can one beat up a child like that' he asked.
When other guardians at the school heard about the incident, they joined Jayanta and demonstrated for stringent action against the teacher.
'We are shocked. We demand immediate action against the teacher. We have heard that he has beaten students mercilessly earlier also,' said Pratap Sarkar, father of Samir, a Class IV student.
'What the teacher has done is unpardonable. Moreover, he has left school without my permission. We will serve him a showcause notice and ask the district primary school authorities to take action against him,' the headmaster said.
Assistant district inspector of schools (primary) Tapan Goswami said he has sought a report from the school. 'We were surprised when we heard the news. We have received complaints about merciless beating by teachers from village schools. But this is the first time in recent memory that such an incident has occurred in Krishnagar,' he said.