A report by a state committee-appointed paediatrician confirmed the allegations of the parents that corporal punishment had been meted out to their wards; the bodies were found floating in a river behind the school
Over a year has passed since the bodies of three boys from Vagad Gurukul International School were found floating in the Sukh River in Virar. The case was brought for another hearing at the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) on Tuesday. A paediatrician appointed by MSCPCR submitted a report after talking to six other boys, who were with the three deceased at the time of the incident.
(From left) Meet Chadwa, Prahul Patel, Kushal Dagha’s bodies were found floating on the Sukh River in August last year.
The report submitted by Dr Samir Dalwai, a developmental paediatrician, confirms that the deceased children had suffered corporal punishment, even though authorities from the school have vehemently denied the same.
The report says, “The children said that they were scolded by the Sanskrit teacher for securing poor marks in a test, and were punished by caning on their palms. The teacher caned them for each mark they lost. Some of the children were caned partially in this manner and were told that the remaining caning would be completed the next day.” It further states that the students also confessed that the same teacher had visited the rest of them a day after the boys were found missing. He asked them if anyone would confess to the police about being caned. The scared students had agreed to keep mum.
However, in December 2014, the school director Nilima Sharma had stated to the commission that when the school spoke to the other six children who had left the school building that night, no one mentioned any form of corporal punishment. She said the children told her they had left the building only to have, “fun in the rains”.
Sharma added that the barricade placed in the spot of the school compound wall was missing. She said, “These children broke the barricade and left the school premises. None of the students or teachers had seen them being depressed.” Contradicting Sharma’s claims, the report clearly states that the children decided to run away from the hostel, to avoid being beaten up the next day.
'Cry for help'
Dr Dalwai’s report further says that the six children also confessed to being present when the incident took place at the river, which had strong currents due to the incessant rain that night.
“As recounted to me, upon reaching the river, the boys were wondering if they should proceed or go back to the hostel... Meet suggested he can cross the river with Prahul and Khushal, while the other six boys stayed back. Halfway or so into the river, the three boys were heard crying for help as they were drowning, but before any help could arrive, the three boys had disappeared,” the report states.
At present, the commission has requested the school authorities to reply to Dr Dalwai’s report, and has agreed to call another hearing at the earliest to bring this case to conclusion.
“We don’t want this to be another case where culprits get away unpunished. My son did not deserve to die such a cruel death,” said a parent of one of the deceased.
Another added, “We are sure our children were murdered because they had complained against their teachers. We want justice.”