The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Separated, boys and girls kill
- Disabled students charged with strangulating teacher

Mumbai, Jan. 27: Fourteen students of a school for the deaf and dumb in Nagpur have been arrested on the charge of killing their teacher who wouldn’t allow “free mixing”.

Nalini Gaikwad, a teacher at Karna Vadhir Vidyalaya, was strangulated by the students — two boys and 12 girls, mostly in their teens — in the early hours yesterday.

Her fault: she would not let the boys visit the girls after dinner. It filled them with rage — so much that they could kill.

Three of the students, who were produced before a court today, are in police custody. They are above 18. The others, below 18, will be sent to remand homes. They will be produced before court again on February 3, police said.

“Gaikwad, who was in-charge of the girls’ hostel, would see to it that after dinner around 6.30 or 7, no boy would get to meet the girls because the school thought it could lead to problems,” said P. Rajput, an officer from the Sonegaon police station in Nagpur, who conducted the first investigation.

The police said Ramesh Guthal, the brightest one among them and the best sportsman, hatched a plan. He, along with another boy, remained hidden in a room in the girls’ hostel till the teacher, who slept with some of the girls in another room, fell asleep. The girls’ hostel is on the first floor of the three-storey school building and the boys’ on the second.

First, they tried to suffocate Gaikwad with a pillow. Then Guthal choked her to death with a piece of cable wire while his friends kept her pinned to her bed, according to the police.

“I don’t know what happened all of a sudden. Mujhe pata nahin kahan se unke andar rakshas jaag utha (I don’t know what made them act like such beasts),” said Dilip Dhote, principal and general secretary of the school. “It may have been their age, it may be sex, but I really have no idea why the students were led to murder,” he added. He said that when he went to the school after being informed of the murder.

The students told him how they had committed the crime and showed him the piece of wire.

“But they showed no repentance. As another teacher assisted the police with the investigation, they said they wanted to kill him also,” he said.

Dhote said that this happened suddenly as there was nothing amiss in the school — there was no authoritarianism. “They are all children of very poor families from around Nagpur. They get education here and (eat) food that they never have in their parents’ homes. There were no complaints about the teacher either. We have to take precautionary measures with children of a certain age,” he said.

But the routine of their claustrophobic lives, cut off as they are from the world by their disability, could have played a role. The students were not allowed to watch films. They were taken to “edifying” programmes outside or picnics, or asked to watch nature programmes on television, which look like their only entertainment within the school premises.

But the children followed their instincts. “They managed to watch all the wrong programmes on television. Even a deaf student had no problem telling another the story of a Hindi film,” said Dhote. He said the violence and the hatred could have come from television, as he sees no other source.

The police, however, said that the boys wanting to be with the girls was a problem in the school and it had come up a few months ago as well. “There was dissatisfaction against the teacher. Kyun ki woh baat chit nahin karne deta (Because she would not allow conversation between the boys and the girls). This was brewing for some time,” said Rajput.

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