The sight is still fresh in Roshan Bano's memory. “I can't forget them screaming and crying,” said the 15-year-old as a crowd of inquisitive neighbours gathered outside her house in a narrow lane of Shri Ram Colony of North-east Delhi. “They carried the dead bodies to the ambulance in front of me. I saw it all.”
It has been four days since the stampede at Government Boys/Girls Senior Secondary School, Khajuri Khas, happened. But girls like Bano, who witnessed the tragedy that killed five students, are too traumatised to go back to school, which re-opens on Monday.
Faced with the task of restoring confidence among students, the education department is planning to counsel children once school reopens.
“We understand that the students are in a state of shock. Our first step was to close the institution for a few days so that the students spend time in the reassuring environment of their homes,” said Chandra Bhushan Kumar, director, education.
“We will have to work with the social welfare people to counsel them and it will have to be done over a period of time,” he said.
Parents of the children are not too convinced. “My daughter’s safety is my priority. While the government may want to deny it, we all know that the boys had misbehaved with the girls. How do I know that this will not happen again?” said Apsari Khatun (37) whose daughter Sajiya Parveen (14) was in school on Thursday.
Sajiya Parveen (14), a class VII student, has been having nightmares since the incident. “She wakes up screaming at night,” her mother said.
Keeping the girls away from school, however, will only stall the process of recovery, according to Jitendra Nagpal, consulting psychiatrist with Vidyasagar Institute of Mental and Neuro Science.
“The sooner they resume their normal routine, the faster the recovery will be,” said Nagpal.