Kolkata: Six months after Class 8 student Rouvanjit Rowla hanged himself following a humiliating caning by the principal, teachers in West Bengal have not stopped thrashing students, with some even causing serious injuries.
La Martiniere for Boys was in the eye of a storm for days after Rouvanjit`s suicide Feb 12. The incident triggered sharp protests from across India and even led to demonstrations, processions and rallies as corporal punishment is banned in educational institutions.
But earlier this month, a Class 9 student of the state-run Kumar Ashutosh Institution (Main) in the suburb of Dum Dum broke his femur bone while trying to ward off his teacher`s merciless blows.
Gobinda Saha, 15, son of a garment seller, had damaged the same bone earlier in an accident and had to undergo treatment for three years to come back to normal life.
Again this month, two students of an all-boys school in Howrah district were caned for speaking to a girl. The incident left one of the boys with a fractured finger.
In July, Srija Das, a Class 1 student in Kolkata, was beaten up severely by her teacher for being inattentive in class. The girl suffered an injury in her left ear. Her parents lodged a police complaint and the woman teacher was arrested. The complaint was, however, withdrawn after the teacher apologised.
Rouvanjit`s death has clearly not been a deterrent. The only change is increased awareness in the media and guardians raising their voices against corporal punishment.
Almost every day there are reports of a schoolchild being at the receiving end of a teacher`s rage. There are instances of students landing in hospital with broken bones or suffering serious internal injuries.
"I want justice. My purpose is to create awareness about such acts. Nobody has the right to hit a child just because he is a teacher. The principal who humiliated my son and caned him is still free. No action has been taken against him. That really pains," Ajay Rowla, Rouvanjit`s father, said.
Following Rouvanjit`s suicide, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had recommended the dismissal of the La Martiniere principal and vice-principal and stopping the increment of three teachers.
"Where from does a man get the right to cane a teenaged boy? And the biggest irony is that the man goes scot free only because he is a teacher," added Rowla.
Rattled by the series of instances of corporal punishment and howls of protests, the West Bengal government has announced it will form an authority so that students and parents can express their grievances about schools and teachers.
"We are planning to set up a committee in every school which will have representatives from parents. This committee will look after the child rights in the institution.
"We are also planning to establish a state advisory commission. And whenever we officially get such complaints we probe the whole matter and then take necessary action," state Education Secretary Vikram Sen said.
Although the majority of schools do not use corporal punishment to discipline students, the teaching fraternity is divided on the issue.
"We don`t give corporal punishment to our students. We talk to our students. Then we call their parents and inform them. Such students are given a note," said N. Pyster, secretary, Calcutta Boys School.
Nishit Halder, principal, Cossipore Institution, said: "If we don`t discipline our students then parents will say we are not grooming them well. And if we try to discipline them then the guardians say we are harming them. This is simply not done.
"And the media has made the matter snowball to such an extent that students are now taking their teachers for granted," said .