Outside Pune Vidya Bhavan in Ghatkopar, parents huddled as their frightened children entered the exam halls for their second language paper on Tuesday. The previous day Bhavi Desai, a Class 10 student of the same school who was caught with a chit minutes before the exam started, jumped off the terrace of her seven-storey building, Sareena Apartments. She died on the spot.
According to the inquiry report prepared by the education department on Tuesday, the 16-year-old girl was caught with a chit soon after the answer sheets for the Social Science Paper-II (Geography) exam were distributed, around 10.45 am.
The report stated that Bhavi was allowed to write the exam after her hall ticket was confiscated. Principal Sarla Narendran asked her to collect the hall ticket after the exam.
Instead of venting their anger at the school, parents supported principal Narendran.
“The principal is in a bad shape. This is just an unfortunate incident and the school has nothing to do with it. The parents met the principal to assure her of their support,” said a parent, whose son was part of Bhavi’s friend circle.
“She just carried out procedure and the child reacted this way. The other students are so tense. No one could study for their exam today.”
Bhavi’s 15 close friends are currently being counselled.
The parents plan to meet Narendran again after the SSC exams end on March 23 to show their support.
The incident has shaken the the Board too.
“This is an extreme step. Teachers should sensitise children before the exams. The Board is concerned and we are chalking out measures to curb such incidents,” said Basanti Roy, secretary of Mumbai division of the Board.
On Tuesday, relatives and friends visited the Desais at their third-floor residence on Sareena Apartments to pay their condolences.
The Desais’ domestic help, Lalitabai, who knew Bhavi since she was a toddler, could not believe that the teenager could take such an extreme step.
“I have seen her grow up. She was such a friendly child. She was the youngest of the three sisters but was very mature,” Lalitabai said.
Parents of Bhavi’s friends are equally puzzled.
“I have seen her through the years. All our children would play dandiya together. She was full of life and so respectful. A perfectly normal teenager,” said the mother of one of Bhavi’s classmates, on condition of anonymity.
Bhavi was the youngest of three sisters.
Her eldest sister, Mansi, is married and other sibling, Nidhi, is doing a course in fashion designing. Her father Deepak Desai owns a company that transports chemicals.