A sarpanch in Chhattisgarh’s Baloda Bazar district took upon himself to punish at least 99 students of a government school for failing in their Class 10 quarterly examination.
Students of the Government Higher Secondary School at Gidhauri panchayat of Kasdol development block, some 125 km west of state capital Raipur, performed very badly in their assessment test.
Out of the 105 students, who appeared in the test, barely six could achieve the passing grade on Monday.
The school staff said that Shatrughan Sahu reached the school with his friend Suraj Banjare after learning about the “worst performance” by Class 10 students in Gidhauri.
Sahu called the students one by one by reading out their names from the school register that marked the attendance and results and beat them with a wooden stick.
“Students who failed in one subject received two blows and those failing in 4-5 subjects were battered 8-10 times. Even the girl students were not spared,” they said.
The sarpanch, however, said he only wished to discipline the students of his area for “not studying and accomplishing well” in the exam.
“I did not assault anyone but gently reminded them to realise the importance of education,” he said.
Infuriated parents have lodged a police complaint against the sarpanch. They said what equally “irked” them was that the principal and the teachers instead of restraining Sahu, witnessed the “punishing” of the students as silent spectators.
“Only teachers have the quasi-parental authority to discipline the students. What right has the sarpanch as an outsider to inflict such punishment?” they asked.
Kasdol block education officer (BEO) KN Verma said he will inquire into the incident and action will be taken.
“This is a very serious issue. No one has the authority to beat or punish the children this way,” Verma said.
Educationists also said that under the Right to Education (RTE) act, no one has the authority to unleash corporal punishments.
“And whatever the instigation, no external interference whether of a politician or the society members, except parents’ association, is acceptable or endorsed. The sarpanch breached on both these grounds,” Jawahar Surisetti, a noted academician, said.
Gidhauri police station in charge SK Jangde told Hindustan Times that the parents were unhappy with both the sarpanch and the school management.
“We are investigating the incident to find out why and under what circumstances the incident, if at all, happened,” Jangde said.