The Telegraph
Wednesday , July 2 , 2014
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They called us Naxalites, gave us little food

- 120 tribal girls come back from Andhra with tales of trauma, women’s panel chief takes note

Ranchi, July 1: Five months ago, they had left for Andhra Pradesh with big dreams of making a life for themselves. Today, they came back with tales of humiliation, mental torture and despair.

For the 120 tribal girls who were lured away by agents to study in the southern state, the short stay at Dileep School of Nursing, Vedayapalem, and Balaji School of Nursing in Talpagiri Colony, both in Nellore district, was nothing less than a nightmare.

Hailing from poor families in remote villages of Chatra, Latehar, Lohardaga, Gumla, Ranchi, Palamau and Simdega districts, these girls were taunted by their teachers and other staff for not being able to speak in English or coming from backward places and were dubbed “Naxalites”.

The abuses and humiliation intensified once it became clear that they would not be able to pay the course fee that was suddenly raised from Rs 53,000 to Rs 80,000 in the middle of the term.

Hum log ko Naxalite bolte the aur pareshan karte the. Woh log bolte the Jharkhand ki ladki log juth bolti hain, English nahi bolte hain (They used to harass us by dubbing us as Naxalites. They used to say that the girls of Jharkhand are liars, cannot speak in English),” said Rani Gadi, who had enrolled in Dileep School of Nursing but returned this morning along with the other girls and met chairperson of Jharkhand State Women Commission Mahua Maji.

The resident of Ranchi’s Kanke block was hardly able to hold back her tears as she narrated the humiliation she received in the hands of the college authorities.

The other girls agreed, saying that they were called “donkeys” and “gungis” (dumb).

A few others mentioned the name of the secretary of Dileep School of Nursing, E. Prabhu Das, who allegedly threatened them to put in jail if they revolted against the college management.

“Our lady teacher called Trisha threatened us with dire consequences. She denied us our certificates,” said Anita Oraon from Gumla.

Although the colleges agreed to release the girls, who were being held captive as they were not able to pay the fee, after the intervention of Jharkhand CID, they did not hand over the seized certificates or mobile phones.

The girls, who were either pursuing intermediate studies or were in first year in college when they made the switch to the Andhra cradles, claimed that two agents — Gumla-based Barnabat Hembrom and Simdega’s Mukti Prakash Aind — had lured them to the southern state.

Rajanti Kumari, also from Gumla, said she paid Rs 10,000 to bag a seat at Balaji School of Nursing. She had borrowed the money from an uncle.

“I was studying intermediate at Kartik Oraon Ucchh Balika Vidyalalya when a senior student came with Barnabat and asked me whether I wanted to pursue a nursing course. My uncle gave me permission to go there. But after going there, I realised what a mistake I had done. We were hardly given food to eat or could sleep. The college administration only wanted money,” said the girl.

Maji said she had taken down a written complaint from the girls along with their signatures and would forward it to acting chief secretary Sajal Chakraborty.

“We will try and enrol the girls in some other nursing college of Jharkhand. I will also see whether any aid could be provided to all these girls from the tribal welfare department so that they could pursue the course here without spending anything more. They have already exhausted the hard-earned money of their parents,” Maji said.