The education department and the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) have failed to announce any compensation for the Dalit girl student of Bhagsar village who lost her arm after receiving an electric shock in the school around one and a half months ago.
According to Manju's parents, on February 23, teachers asked her to remove a cloth sheet from a school wall, which had electric current in it as a nearby wire touched it. According to the education department, the girl was playing as she came in contact with the wire.
"School teachers requested us not to complain about the incident and agreed to bear all expenses of the treatment. The girl was treated in a private hospital in Amritsar. Doctors amputated her right arm to save her. But now the teachers are not keeping their word," Sant Ram, father of the girl, alleged.
Ashok Mahindra, general secretary, Dalit Movement Organisation for Justice, said, "Teachers did not inform the police about the incident. Her parents are poor labourers and Dalits. Teachers spent the money from their pockets to save their skin. It was because of the mistake of the teachers that the girl lost her arm. Then they tried to cover up the mistake by paying for her treatment. There must be a police complaint against the education department and the power body for such negligence."
He said, "If a proper police complaint had been made and the education department and the power body made accused in the negligence, the girl should have been able to claim a proper compensation. Now she has been living on the mercy of the teachers who are showing no interest in her further treatment."
"The teachers had left the girl at her house. Now they have again admitted her at the civil hospital, Muktsar, after we raised the voice," said Mahindra.
"She has been handicapped for life. Who will take her responsibility? First, the education department and the power body should pay her the compensation and then the Punjab government should assure her a job. I will meet SC commission chairman Rajesh Bagha along with the family to demand justice for the girl," said Mahindra.
When asked why the education department was not bearing the cost of the girl's treatment, district education officer Davinder Kumar said, "The education department has no money to get her treated. So we are treating her at the personal level by spending from our pockets. We have spent around Rs. 3.5 lakh on her treatment."
"It was an accident and not a fit case for police complaint. I have written to the education department and PSPCL to pay the compensation to the girl," said Kumar.
"We helped the girl on humanitarian grounds. She was sent back home after her treatment was over. We have spent around Rs. 5 lakh on the treatment," said Baljit Kaur, principal of the Bhagpur school.