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Tragedy at city school

Class I boy dies after collapse during break

A Class I student at South Point School died on Thursday morning after collapsing in the second-floor corridor during the tiffin break.

Rajonyo Sarkar, 6, had been spotted slumping to the floor while walking down the corridor after his music class around 9.30am and immediately moved to the school infirmary, police quoted South Point as saying.

The nurse on duty said she could not find Rajonyo’s pulse and that his blood pressure had dropped rapidly. Fearing he might have choked on something, she checked his mouth for food particles but there was none. “We immediately put him on oxygen,” she said.

Principal Dalbir Kaur Chadda said Rajonyo was taken to the nearby Repose Nursing Home in a school bus that was parked outside the gate. “We didn’t waste time. He was administered oxygen and taken to the nursing home immediately,” she told Metro.

Doctors at the nursing home on Broad Street, about half a kilometre from the school, declared Rajonyo brought dead. “But we still admitted him to the intensive care unit to see if we could revive him,” the manager of the nursing home, Samir Kumar Ghosh, said.

Rajonyo’s parents, both lawyers, have filed a complaint with Gariahat police station alleging negligence by the school. The six-year-old was their only child.

“We have started a case against the school under Section 304A of the IPC (death because of negligence). The post-mortem report is inconclusive in nature, so the viscera has been sent to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital for chemical and histopathological examination,” the joint commissioner of police (crime), Pallab Kanti Ghosh, said.

According to the school’s version of what happened, Rajonyo attended music class between 9am and 9.30am on the first floor of the school building and was returning to his classroom on the third floor when he was taken ill. He is said to have collapsed without warning while passing by the computer room.

“The school authorities told us that a teacher first spotted the child lying on the floor at 9.32am. She alerted the floor attendant and he was taken to the infirmary, where he was administered oxygen. The child did not respond and was moved to Repose Nursing Home, where he was declared dead,” joint commissioner Ghosh said.

Police sources said CCTV footage from a camera installed at the main entrance to the school shows Rajonyo being taken out of the campus at 9.40am.

Parents turn restive outside South Point School on Thursday afternoon after news of Class I student Rajonyo Sarkar’s death was splashed on television news channels. Many parents wanted to find out how their children were doing and several protested against classes continuing. Police used a loudspeaker to calm down the parents. Picture by Bibhash Lodh

Rajonyo’s father Raja Sarkar questioned the school’s version. “Who knows how long he was lying unconscious before he was found? Why did the school take my son to an ill-equipped nursing home when they could have easily taken him to a paediatric hospital that is close by and specialises in child care?” he said.

Mother Ruchira said she received a call from the principal at 10.20am. “I got the call after everything was over. How much time does it take to identify a student of the school?” she said.

South Point said emergency medical attention was the priority. “We didn’t wait to identify the child. It was only after the child had been attended to that the teachers made a roll call and we could identify him and call the parents, which was around 10am,” said Krishna Damani, a spokesperson for the school, said.

An official statement issued by South Point said Rajonyo “might have been suffering from some chronic ailment, the details of which are not known to the school”.

The boy’s father denied his son had a history of any such ailment.

This was Rajonyo’s first year in South Point and had been attending classes since the first week of April. He did not attend school on Monday because of fever.

Rajonyo had briefly acted in a televised version of Nati Binodini, aired on a private channel.

“Reeb had a habit of going in and coming out again of the school gate to hug me. He did the same today,” mother Ruchira said.

Thursday was the last day of school before the summer vacation. South Point has called off a Rabindra Jayanti function slated for Friday.