Inhuman Face Of Special School In Guwahati

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Guwahati: An appalling, inhuman face of our society again resurfaced at a special school located near Guwahati. A nine year old special child was allegedly beaten up by the school.

“My son is a special child, that is why I had taken him so far, to Guwahati, to put him a special school,” said the mother of the child who was badly injured. The family hails from Arunachal Pradesh. “He was there hardly an hour or so when he was beaten up. How could they do that? I had put him there because it is supposed to be a special school,” said the distressed mother.

Her son, whose mental disability prevents him from comprehending well, was allegedly beaten up in Residential Special School run by an organisation called Society for Health & Education Development (SHED) on Tuesday, following which his mother took him home to Naharlagun, near Itanagar.

“I had left him at the school around 4 pm. I had reached my hotel in Guwahati around 6 pm when I got a call from the school secretary, who asked me to take my son away as soon as possible. When I asked for the reason, he said he had become violent and gone out of control. I reached the school around 7 pm; the warden brought my son out. When he saw me he started crying and rushed to me,” said the distressed mother. “Sir had beaten me,” my son told me after coming out from the school,” said the agonized mother from Naharlagun.

Though the distressed mother did not lodge a complaint, the district administration filed one suo motu at Sonapur police station, on Wednesday, on the basis of media reports. Police is waiting for a formal statement from the boy and his parents. “We have registered a case under Section 77 of the Juvenile Justice Act on the basis of a complaint by the local executive magistrate.

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“We have contacted the parents and asked them to lodge a formal complaint so that proper action can be taken,” said Biswajit Deka, officer in-charge of Sonapur police station.

The police had picked up three persons from the school hostel on Wednesday but had to let them go after taking their statements. “We cannot arrest them without the victim’s complaint,” informed Deka.

However the child’s mother is reluctant to lodge a complaint as she was scared. “We did not go to police at Sonapur because we did not want to get into the hassle of going there innumerable times. Our immediate concern is to defend our child and his safety is our top priority,” she said.  Eldest of three children, “he has problems walking, speaking and understanding things,” she informed.  As there are no special schools to take care of special children in Arunachal Pradesh, she had brought him so far.

“How could they treat a special child so badly?” questions Mitali Tingkhatra, chairperson of the Arunachal Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, who met the family in Naharlagun. “I got a call from a child rights activist in Guwahati and took a detailed statement from the child and his parents. We are taking up the case with the Assam government as well as the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.”

The child’s parents had paid Rs 34,000 as admission fee and advance for six months. “I had given copies of his medical history and told the school secretary and warden that he has a small pipe fitted to his skull for removal of water that gathers in his head every six months. He is under treatment of a neurologist in a hospital in Guwahati,” she informed.

Hiranya Saikia, secretary-in-charge of SHED, denied assault. “The boy turned violent within 30 minutes of his mother’s departure. He bite another boy, then went to the kitchen and hit the caretaker on his head with a large knife with wide blades. When I reached the dining hall, two older boys were struggling to hold him down. I put him into a room, but he grew more violent, and repeatedly hit his head against a steel bunk. He also hit a bookshelf, which almost fell on him. I immediately called up,” said Saikia, who stays on the school compound.

Set up in 2007, the school has 52 students – all with various disabilities – of whom 23 including five girls stay in the hostel. There is one child each from Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal, and it was on a reference from the other child’s parents who are from the same state that this family had brought their son.

All childcare homes, orphanages and private hostels in the district would henceforth have to be registered with the district administration said Kamrup (Metro) deputy commissioner M Angamuthu.  He also announced a new committee comprising magistrates, police officers and social welfare officials to inspect all such homes and hostels.

Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has registered a suo motu case against the special school.