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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Too poor to afford a pencil, girl commits suicide

Priya Ranjan Sahu, Hindustan Times  Bhubaneshwar, June 26, 2014
First Published: 13:15 IST(26/6/2014) | Last Updated: 14:35 IST(26/6/2014)

A girl studying in Class 7 committed suicide in Odisha’s Ganjam district because her poor parents could not afford to pay for a notebook and pencil, the police said on Thursday.

The drastic step taken by the girl has put a question mark on the functioning of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) that boasts of taking care of all educational needs of children upto the age of 14. Ganjam collector Premchand Choudhury has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

“I have asked the district education officer and the district project director, SSA, to submit a report immediately. We will take appropriate action after getting the report,” Choudhury told HT.

14-year-old Jayanti Naik set herself on fire on Wednesday morning after pouring kerosene oil on her body after her parents left the house for work in Aska town in the district, about 170 km south of Bhubaneswar.

Noticing smoke from the house, neighbours rescued her and rushed her to the local hospital where she succumbed to her burn injuries in the night, a police officer said.

Doctors said she had suffered 70% burn injuries.

Jayanti’s father Bijy Naik is a daily wage labourer while her mother Iswari Naik works as a maid servant in local households. The couple is now left with another daughter and two sons.

Iswari said that her daughter was a good student and recently promoted from class 6 to class 7. After the school reopened on June 23, the girl had repeatedly asked her mother to buy notebooks and pencil but Iswari did not have enough money. 

“On Wednesday, she was quite upset since the morning. Before leaving home for work, I asked her to get ready for school, but she refused to go saying she did not have note book and pencil. I left after assuring her that I would get it soon,” Jayanti's mother Iswari said.


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