The Telegraph
Wednesday , June 29 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sit-ups, cane for ‘talkative’ schoolgirls

Jamshedpur, June 28: In a flagrant abuse of child laws that ban corporal punishment in schools, a teacher of an elite city cradle today caned six students for being too talkative in class, leaving two of them unconscious and the rest traumatised.

While all the six Class IX girls have been admitted to Tata Main Hospital (TMH), Beldih Church School, which never saw such a brazen incident in its 57-year history, has suspended the accused teacher, Nilanjana Chatterjee.

According to students of Section A, the incident occurred in the seventh period when Chatterjee came to take their physics class. She apparently got very annoyed because the students — both boys and girls — were creating ruckus, not quite unusual during the brief break between periods in many schools.

The teacher, however, handpicked six girls — Gulbasa Parveen, Simran Arora, Amrita Kumari, Saazia Aftab, Ruksar Ahmed and Shion Alice — and asked them to do 100 sit-ups each. When they could not complete the punitive exercise, she caned them on their legs, allegedly till two of them — Ruksar and Simran — fainted.

Some scared classmates rang up their parents and informed them of the incident. The parents, in turn, contacted the Sakchi branch office of Pasvan-e-Millat, a social organisation. Millat functionaries went to the school and rushed the students to TMH.

Speaking to The Telegraph, one of the victims claimed it were the boys who were creating ruckus, but Chatterjee spared them the rod. “I was not even talking in the class. The boys were creating nuisance and Nilanjana teacher got excited. She punished us without trying to find out who was responsible for the trouble,” the visibly traumatised teen said, requesting that her comment be kept anonymous.

Another student, who has sustained injuries in the knee, added: “Hitting girls is Nilanjana teacher’s pastime.”

While agitated parents claimed their wards had been grievously injured by the teacher, a doctor on emergency duty at TMH said the sit-ups had exhausted the students and they fainted. “It is more trauma than physical injury. There are no deep marks of assault as such,” he said.

One of the six girls, Shion, was released from the hospital in the evening.

So far, no FIR has been lodged against the teacher. Bistupur OC Pramod Singh, who reached TMH in anticipation of trouble from angry parents, confirmed he had received no written complaint.

One of the guardians said they should jointly lodge an FIR after their wards recover. “I am contemplating a police complaint against the school management. Let others join me,” he said.

According to Indian child right laws, corporal punishment can invite a prison term of up to three years, besides a hefty cash penalty, if a criminal case is lodged against the teacher on school in question.

Vice-principal of Beldih Church School S.P. Sahu admitted that students were taken to task in a wrong way. “I have suspended Nilanjana Chatterjee after she severely punished some students,” he said.

Sources said this was the first time a teacher of the elite ICSE board school, established way back in 1954, had used the rod. The school is administered by the church school management under Beldih Baptist Church.

It has has 3,000-odd students on its rolls and boasts facilities like a well-endowed library, a computer lab and as many as 16 clubs to promote extra-curricular activities.

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