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Haryana: “They Handed me a Broom to Sweep After Breaking my Hand,” Says Dalit Boy in Gurukul

Ravi Kaushal |
The boy’s family alleged a Gurukul Jhajjar teacher accused him of theft and broke his fingers and the police and administration refused to help them.

Gurukul Jhajjar

New Delhi: In a heart-wrenching incident, the family of a dalit boy studying in Gurukul Jhajjhar, one of the oldest boys’ schools in Haryana’s Jajjhar district, alleged that he was beaten violently by a teacher on the pretext of accusations of theft by fellow students. As a result, the boy had several fractures in both hands.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, the family, along with representatives from other child welfare organisations, alleged the local administration failed to do justice even after repeated requests. The family also did not get medico-legal certificate mandated under a police case. Ritu, mother of injured boy Shubham told mediapersons that she received a call from one of fellow students on April 29, saying that the boy had been beaten mercilessly and had sustained injuries.

“When I heard about the incident, I asked my elder son to visit the school. My son found that Shubham was holding a broom even when his both arms were dangling. The principal asked my elder son to take Shubham with him as he was no longer desired in the institution. My son consistently complained about pain. Next morning, I took him to a government hospital where doctors conducted an X-ray examination. When I approached the local police station, the officials told me that it was my fault for getting him admitted in the Gurukul. I had to approach Amit Grewal from Ambedkar Missionaries Welfare Association who brought in lawyers to get the FIR registered,” she said.

Even though the Gurukul received consistent funding from the government, it has been engaging students in tedious labour practices, such as plucking vegetables and harvesting wheat manually, they alleged.

“The boys have been complaining about consistent harassment. I sent my son to Gurukul because I could not afford expensive private education. I did not know that my son will pay the price for education with broken bones, ” said the mother.

Sneha, the lawyer for the injured boy, said the police handed over the FIR copy only when we produced a Vakalatnama in front of officials. As per the FIR, Jhajjar Police booked accused teacher Mahavir Shastri under Section 3(1)(r), 3(1)(s) and 3(2)(va) of Scheduled Castes Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, Section 75 and Section 82 of Juvenile Justice Act and 323 and 342 of Indian Penal Code.

Talking to NewsClick, the lawyers said that the teacher has been booked under cognisable offences under both the Acts. “We found that the accused was trying to influence the family for a compromise and this is why we are demanding his immediate arrest. It is already clear that the corporal punishment in country is banned under Section 82 of JJ Act. The victim was denied justice under the Criminal Procedure Code. First the mother was denied FIR. Then, the victim did not receive a medico-legal certificate. Ideally, the enforcement agencies should have taken suo motu cognisance, be it the Commission for Protection of Child Rights or any other agency. Still no one has taken any step. We are planning to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court.”

Neha Siwach, Managing Director, Diversified Intervention of Youth Awareness, alleged that even if some students accused the boy of stealing something, how justified was it to break his bones and fingers ?

“The institution in question is already facing cases of brutality and molestation in different cases pertaining to 2015 and 2018. We really do not know if all students are facing similar level of violence. Most of the students belong to middle class and dalit families and it is very urgent to record statements of students in front of their parents. The students should not be subjected to sheer violence”, she said, adding that the organisations have already submitted a memorandum to investigate the institution thoroughly to the governor and other officials of the state government.

Ranjana Prasad, member, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said that the SCPCR should have taken cognisance because child care institutions identified by it are mandated with such work. “I would request them to take up the issue. If any mother has put the child in Gurukul, it is for his better health and nutrition not to undergo such severe punishment. It is condemnable that an educational institution indulged in such practice.”

Vijay Pal Shastri, Head, Gurukul Jhajjar, did not respond to calls made by NewsClick over the allegations by the victim.

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