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Teacher erupts, kids in hospital

New Delhi, March 19: Nine-year-old Farman can’t open his eyes as he lies on a hospital bed, head swathed in bandages.

The Class III student is not alone. Classmates Ashish, Jyotish and Akash are on beds around him, writhing in pain.

The four are among the 10 children injured when a teacher in their municipal school ran amok with his rod yesterday, unable to control his anger at the pandemonium created while a meal was being served, police said.

The children, all under 10, were rushed to hospital with injuries on the head, arms and legs but six were sent home after being treated and observed for a while, the police said.

Raj Kumar Sharma was arrested last night after a complaint from the parents. An army man from Madhya Pradesh who quit the forces, he had joined the Nagar Nigam Prathmik School in east Delhi’s Ashok Nagar a month ago.

Sharma is said to have beaten the students for about 10 minutes with a rod that had a pointed metal strip. The metal ripped through the children’s skin and caused deep wounds.

“My child was bleeding and crying. I initially thought he had a fight at school. Then he told me what had happened. After that, we (other parents) got together and filed a complaint,” said Farman’s mother Anjum.

Vibha Singh, the secretary of the teachers’ union of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi schools, didn’t condone the outrage, but tried to suggest that Sharma may have erupted under pressure from having to take too many classes. “He had been teaching three sections. Maybe, he was under too much pressure. But that in no way means that I am trying to defend him,” Singh said.

The incident comes two months after Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan took a serious view of corporal punishment, saying teachers had no right to thrash students.

“Teachers are not supposed to beat students,” Balakrishnan had said in January, rejecting a Gujarat headmaster’s plea to set aside his conviction for hitting a Dalit student who later committed suicide.

A countrywide study by the Union women and child development ministry in 2007 had also turned the spotlight on the problem, with 65 per cent of the children surveyed saying they were given corporal punishment.

The situation was worse in Delhi, with seven out of 10 children saying they were beaten up and humiliated in school.

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