When four-year-old Raju* went to his school in Hyderabad on Monday, little did he imagine what was to follow.
According to his parents, Raju was pulled up during class and held by the school’s principal, as his teacher thrashed him all over his back and legs with a long stick. His crime? His parents were too poor to pay his school fees in time.
A young Raju, who could not comprehend why he was being thrashed, came home wailing on Monday evening, following which his parents noticed the bruises.
The incident took place at the Krishnaveni Talent School in Hyderabad's BN Reddy Nagar.
A video shared by child rights activists shows the boy wincing and crying as his parents film the bruises on his body, and touch the red marks left behind by the stick.
The boy's parents could not pay the fees as they hailed from a poor background. His father, Jala Sekhar Yadav, is a plumber.
As the boy received severe injuries, they took him to a doctor on Monday night, after which family members and activists staged a protest outside the institute's premises on Tuesday morning.
Members from the Student Federation of India (SFI) were also present, as they waved flags and raised slogans against the school. As things escalated, police arrived at the spot and managed to calm the situation.
The Balala Hakkula Sangham (BHS), an NGO for child rights, along with the boy's parents, also filed a complaint at the Meerpet police station.
The BHS demanded that the teacher should be arrested immediately adding that the school should be closed as it failed to provide care and protection to the child.
Speaking to TNM, Inspector Ranga Swamy from the Meerpet police station said that a case had been registered under Sections 324 (Voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means) and 506 (Criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) besides section 75 (Punishment for cruelty to child) of the Juvenile Justice Act.
“It is 100% wrong on the school’s part to indulge in such an act and they are to be blamed completely. The matter of fees is something between the school’s management and the parents. Whether it’s a 4-year-old or a Class 10 student, the children are not related to this,” says Anuradha Rao from the BHS.
“Under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, it is the right of the children to have access to education. This incident will traumatise the child for a long time,” she added.
Stating that the school did not gain anything from beating the child, Anuradha said, “They thrashed an innocent boy. They should be punished.”
“The Telangana government should take note of such incidents and ensure that children are able to study without the fear of such backlash, for no mistake of their own,” she added.
Despite repeated attempts, the school could not be contacted.
TNM has since learnt that the school’s Director, T Gopal Reddy, Principal, Padmaja Raj, and teacher, Swaroopa, have been sent to judicial remand.
Regulation of school fees in Telangana is a major issue, being highlighted by groups like the Hyderabad School Parents Association (HSPA).
This incident also comes days after the Telangana government moved the Hyderabad High Court and filed a petition to get a stay order on the issue of hiking school fees in the state.
The state's Education Department had earlier ordered status quo on the fee hike in January this year, following which some schools challenged the decision in court.
As the HC allowed private schools to raise fees, the government petitioned the court to stay its latest order.