A eleven-year old school girl Shanno Khan from an MCD in north Delhi, who went into a coma after being beaten and asked to stand under the Sun for two hours by her teacher as punishment for not being able to recite the alphabets, has died. Shanno was on a life support system since Wenesday.
Corporal punishment is illegal in India but some teachers continue to mete out such punishment in some schools. Most teachers get away with a mild warning when they are taken to task.
As punishment, Shanno was apparently made to stand in a pose where the child was asked to stand in a semi-squatting position with her hands passing between the legs to hold her ears. Most children are familiar with this punishment which is called “Murga.” But on top of that a brick was placed on her back and she was left in the scorching heat of the summer Sun.
The police took 48 hours to file the case against the teacher, Manju. The teacher has since been arrested and booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder after the student’s death. The teacher was suspended along with the principal of the school. In her statement, the teacher has sought to rubbish the story.
Asked in what way he would like the erring teacher to be punished, Shanno’s father, Ayub Khan, said: “I have lost my child. I want strong action against the teacher.” He wonders how his other two daughters who study in the same school would be able to continue their studies in the school where the absusive behaviour of a teacher was responsible for the death of their sister.
How long will this go on? When will we learn from our past mistakes? Can we say that we have seen the last of such cases in India? Or, will it take the lives of more children before we put a stop to this kind of inhuman punishment?
“Spare the rod and spoil the child,” is an outdated dictum. It is time to take a second look at it. “Spare the rod and spare the child,” looks like a plausible edited version of the old dictum.