BJP seeks Kolkata principal’s arrest over corporal punishment (Lead)

June 14th, 2010 - 11:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Kolkata, June 14 (IANS) Protests over the death of a student of the La Martiniere for Boys school here, allegedly due to physical and mental torture, grew Monday with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s youth wing demanding the arrest of the principal and an NGO calling for a ban on corporal punishment.

Save the Children, an NGO that works for child rights, Monday demanded an immediate ban on corporal punishment.

Earlier in the day, BJP’s youth wing activists staged a protest outside the school and demanded the arrest of the principal and four teachers who allegedly tortured the student.

“The Right to Education Act clearly bans corporal punishment. But there should be a complete ban once and for all on corporal punishment in all schools,” said Manab Ray, state programme manager, Save the Children.

A study conducted by UNICEF and Save the Children along with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007 showed that 65 percent of school going children in India faced corporal punishment.

Ray pointed out that the La Martiniere case, in which Rouvanjit Rowla, a Class 8 student, was driven to commit suicide was a typical instance of “abuse of power and authority” by a teacher in the name of discipline.

“Discipline and forms of positive discipline should be made an integral part of all teacher training - pre-service and in service. A teacher’s fundamental role is to nurture a child not to punish them,” added Ray.

In the morning, the BJP activists carried out a noisy demonstration outside the school’s main gate.

“We are protesting against the torture perpetrated by the principal… we demand immediate arrest of the principal and the teachers involved in this crime,” said Amitava Ray, a leader of BJP’s youth wing.

A police complaint has been filed by the boy’s father against the principal and four teachers alleging that his son was driven to take his life following repeated humiliation and torture.

The allegation comes less than a month after the arrest of a teacher of the same school for allegedly demanding a laptop from a student to promote him to a higher class and then failing the child as his parents refused to meet his demand.

In New Delhi, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal Monday termed corporal punishment as unacceptable in a civilised society and said it has been banned under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

“It (corporal punishment) is not acceptable in a civilised society and children have to be looked upon and treated differently,” Sibal said in an interview to Headlines Today.

“As you know, under the RTE Act, corporal punishment is prohibited. And I think it’s time for all institutions in this country, if they have been following this kind of practice… (to understand that) it’s something anarchistic, it destroys the confidence of the child. It’s humiliating for the child,” Sibal said.

The West Bengal government has announced that it would form an authority where students and their parents can express their grievances about schools and teachers.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has also conducted a probe and expressed dissatisfaction over the teaching environment in the school.

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