Mussoorie death: School, parents blame each other
When Nirmal Verma (38) asked her only son whether he wanted to celebrate his birthday at their home in Najafgarh or go on an outstation school trip to Mussourie, 10-year-old Shivam didn’t have to think twice.delhi Updated: May 11, 2010 00:32 IST
When Nirmal Verma (38) asked her only son whether he wanted to celebrate his birthday at their home in Najafgarh or go on an outstation school trip to Mussourie, 10-year-old Shivam didn’t have to think twice.
He opted for the trip to Mussoorie.
“He was an active child; the outgoing types. Not only was he good at his studies, he also loved playing every game he saw,” said Ashwani Soni (33), Shivam’s uncle. “Shivam was excited about the trip to Mussoorie. So much so, that he chose the trip over celebrating his birthday on April 30.”
Shivam Soni, a class V student at the ITL Public School in Dwarka’s Sector 9 was part of a group of 180 children across classes I to V and 23 of the school’s staffers who had gone on a three-day trip to Mussourie.
However, the trip turned tragic when Shivam’s body was found lying on the road by a driver outside the hotel they were staying at in Mussoorie.
His parents are inconsolable.
“This was not the first time he had gone on a school trip. Last year, he had been on a similar trip to Nainital,” said Nirmal.
“We ended up cremating him a day before we were supposed to pick him up from the school after he returned from the trip,” said a tearful Vijay Kumar Verma (40), Shivam’s father, a jeweller.
What irks the family even further is the fact that the bad news was broken to the family in bits and pieces on the morning of May 9.
“First, his mother got a call from the principal of the school informing her that ‘something had gone wrong on the trip’. Then I got a call and was told the same thing,” said Vijay.
Vijay alleged that different school representatives had given him different stories about the incident.
“While the principal refused to take my calls, a teacher who had apparently accompanied the children on the trip told me that Shivam had slipped in the bathroom and had hurt himself. Another staff member said he had fallen off the balcony while watching the sunrise.”
After repeated attempts, the family was finally given the hotel’s address at Mussourie and asked to reach there as soon as possible.
As Vijay stayed back due to health reasons, his elder brother, Rajesh, rushed to Mussoorie to find out what had happened to Shivam.
“They kept hiding the truth from us till my brother was handed Shivam’s blood-soaked body. It was then that they told him that Shivam had fallen off the balcony while walking in his sleep,” said Vijay.
Shivam’s family alleged carelessness on the school’s part.
“His mother had spoken to him around 9:30 pm that night and he had sounded upset. The rooms were unfit for children to be lodged at considering the fact that each room had a mere iron grille less than two feet high in the name of a protective railing,” said Ashwani.
The school, however, denied the Vermas’ allegations.
“As caretakers, we do all we can. But in case of any untoward incident or somethings that are beyond our control, parents too have to share responsibility,” said Anjali Seth, Principal, ITL Public School, Dwarka.