Navi Mumbai: Panvel school locks child in the dark for three hours

Updated: Nov 28, 2017, 09:12 IST | Faisal Tandel

The students of St Joseph's High School have alleged harassment at the hands of their teachers, claiming that they are being confined in rooms, made to get their own exam answer sheets and not allowed class lessons for the last two weeks

A Panvel school has become a living nightmare for those students whose parents have refused to pay the recently hiked fees following a revised fee structure. The students of St Joseph's High School have alleged harassment at the hands of their teachers, claiming that they are being confined in rooms, made to get their own exam answer sheets and not allowed class lessons for the last two weeks.


St Joseph's High School in Panvel has already been mired in controversy for arbitrarily hiking its fees thrice this year

If that wasn't any worse, the school has allegedly started holding two prayer sessions – instead of one – daily. The second prayer is only for students, who haven't paid their fees yet. "We are asked to say, 'Oh god give some sense to our pare­nts,'" one student told mid-day. The school has already been mired in controversy for hiking its fees thrice this year.

Following an alarming spate of similar incidents, parents recently approached officials of the District Child Protection Unit of Raigad, which in turn filed a complaint with the Khandeshwar Police. A total of nine students between Std V and IX have come forward and given their statements against the school. While the police have filed a case, probe is still on.

'We are being tortured'
Parents said that the kind of torture being meted out to the kids is almost horrifying. According to a 14-year-old complainant, in June this year -- right after her parents joined the protest against the revised fee hike -- her teacher Anita Mishra made her wait outside the class. "Later, she took me into an isolated room and close the door behind me. It was pitch dark inside, and I was made to sit there for almost three hours. To cover up the incident, she didn't send me home with my father that day, but instead dropped me in her own vehicle," the Std IX student from St Joseph's alleged.


Illustration/Ravi Jadhav

Another 11-year-old student from Std VI said that the teachers have shifted the non-fee paying students to B division. "The students in this division are not given ID cards, role numbers or notebooks. Also, nobody has been teaching us for the last 15 days. We are only made to pray twice daily, to drive sense into our parents," said the student.

After the Ganpati festival holidays, some stud­ents from Std V, VII and X were also allegedly made to stand in the terrace for 90 minutes for not paying their fees. "During examinations, we are asked to procure our own answer sheets and made to write the paper in the laboratory instead of the classroom," another student said.

Probe is on
Upset with the ruthless attitude adopted by the school, the parents on November 15, approached the District Child Protection unit. The district child officials then held a meeting with the parents and students at the Panvel Municipal Corporation.


Parents and students at a fee hike protest rally in Azad Maidan, earlier this year

On November 18, following a complaint by Ram Krishna Reddy, district child protection officer, Raigad and Ram Mhaske, protection officer for non-institution care, the Khandeshwar Police registered a case against the school under various sections of the Juvenile Justice Act. "We have filed a complaint against nine different teachers and one supervisor from the school," Reddy said. "We have also forwarded our complaint to the Child Rights Commission authorities and the education minister, but are waiting to hear from them," Mhaske added.

When contacted, S Nagre, assistant police inspector, Khandeshwar Police, said, "No arrests have been made as investigations are still on."

Despite repeated attempts, the principal of St Joseph's High School was unavailable for comment. School authorities weren't even willing to share the principal's name, except for identifying her as Ms Fernandes.

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