It seems the horrific Khajuri Khas stampede that resulted in the death of five schoolgirls could have been averted had the school management acted more responsibly.
The police enquiry report submitted to the Delhi government has found "gross irresponsibility" in the matter on part of the school authority. The report says the acting principal had not turned up for duty on that rainy day and most teachers had come in late. The probe was headed by TC Nakh, DCP (North-east).
Shockingly, the teachers decided to play hooky on a day when as many as 1,200 students of Classes VI, VII, VIII, X and XII were supposed to take their first term examination.
Taking note of this, Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta has recommended the suspension of the school principal, vice principal and the deputy director of education (north-east). Action will be taken once the recommendation has the approval of the Chief Minister and the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.
The stampede at the Government Boys/Girls Senior Secondary School, Khajuri Khas, happened on the morning of September 10. A sudden announcement of change in seating plan just a few minutes before the examination led to panic among students and a subsequent stampede at the only staircase in the school building.
"The principal had not been coming to school for some time as her husband had passed away. The senior-most Post Graduate teacher was in charge that day and she did not bother to turn up or inform her absence to anyone," said a source in the education department, who did not want to be identified as unauthorized to speak to the media.
"To make matters worse many of the teachers had not reported on time."
"As a result there were only a few teachers to manage such a huge crowd of children. We all know there is more discipline in a school when the head is present. The situation could have been handled better had a person of authority been around when the change in seating plan was announced," added the source.