A wheelchair-bound Anuj with his father Surendra Ram at Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi. Telegraph picture
Ranchi; Feb. 18: Twelve-year-old Anuj always wanted to study, a simple wish that he clings to with nerves of steel knowing that he might not walk again after his schoolteacher caned him mercilessly for coming to class five minutes late in December 2011.
Thanks to National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), there is a glimmer of hope for justice for the Palamau boy and his parents — marginalised farmers who had to sell property and go begging in the streets of the national capital for his treatment.
An NCPCR team visited Anuj last week at a Delhi hospital, where he is in a paraplegic (loss of control or sensation in the legs and lower body) state.
Dinesh Bhatt, NCPCR senior consultant, said the commission had collected all details and documents related to the boy’s ordeal and would issue notices to the state and district administrations for an action taken report by next week.
“The district and state administrations will be required to send us a report. We will send an independent inquiry team,” he told The Telegraph over phone.
“It is not only a case of child abuse, but also appears to be that of criminal conspiracy by hushing up everything. We were informed that the local police as well as the school authorities had refused to lodge a case after the incident. The child’s parents are now begging,” he added.
Asked about the probable outcome of the panel’s intervention, Bhatt said the guilty teacher must be punished. “The commission will strongly recommend compensation for the boy including all medical expenses from the beginning,” he added
Anuj’s parents, Surendra Ram (40) and Neelam Devi (38), had to sell their two-acre plot at Purnadeeh in Lesliganj police station area of Palamau for Anuj’s treatment.
He was initially taken to a Palamau hospital from where he was referred to Ranchi’s Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS). At RIMS, the family was asked to head for AIIMS but they failed to get Anuj admitted to the Delhi hospital.
Early last year, the boy was finally accommodated at Safdarjung Hospital. So far, he has undergone four major surgeries.
In December 2012, the Prime Minister’s Office offered Rs 1 lakh to Surendra but he soon exhausted the amount, as he had to clear debts amounting to Rs 80,000.
“I am socially and financially weak and they (district officials and school) are very influential. I have given fresh applications to the district administration. But I fear that they will hush up the case,” Surendra said.
He said the district education department set up a team last month for a preliminary investigation. But it gave a clean chit to the teacher, Virendra Singh (35), and the school authorities.
When contacted, district superintendent of education Shivendra Kumar said, “I don’t remember anything about the case… I am at a meeting.”
After NCPCR officials in Ranchi learnt about the incident from the media and mounted pressure, Lesliganj police was compelled to register an FIR last month. Neither the police nor the education department are yet to act against the teacher, though the Centre banned corporal punishment three years ago.
But Anuj has to live with a neuromotor disorder that has left his right leg shorter by four inches following multiple surgeries. Doctors see little hope of him walking again, though a hip surgery is scheduled next week.
“My teacher scolded me and hit me on the neck with a stick as I came late. I fell on the ground. I want to study, but I can’t walk,” Anuj said.