Kerala woman's eight-month-long fight to get her phone back from a school

Sameera was unaware that natural parental concern about her daughter’s safety would drag her into a needlessly long-drawn battle with the school.
Sameera Kamal from Kannur
Sameera Kamal from Kannur
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In October 2019, Sameera Kamal, a woman from Kerala’s Kannur district, kept her mobile phone in her daughter’s bag. She warned her daughter to inform her if she got delayed at school. It was 'youth festival' day at school and Sameera knew that her 15-year-old daughter Shahza would get late. She was, however, unaware that the natural parental concern would drag her into a needlessly long-drawn battle to get the phone back. 

One of the school teachers confiscated Shahza’s phone and gave it to the headmaster of PJHSS Madayi school. 

“The next day I went to school and asked for the phone. The headmaster promised to give it back after the Class 10 exams are over. He said it was the rule in the school. I agreed and returned home. Soon after exams were over, I went to school again. But they insulted me and said they would never give the phone back. They challenged me to do whatever I could,” Sameera said.

To buy a mobile phone worth Rs 10,000 was not easy for Sameera. A single mother, she works as a tailor and raises three children with her small income. With her son now having to attend online classes due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place in Kerala, Sameera needs the phone now more than ever.

She had no choice but to approach the police. However, when she did not get a good response from the Pazhayangadi police, she approached Naufal Bin Yousaf of Asianet News, who reported the story.

“When I thought that I won’t get justice from the police, I had to approach the media. After media reports, they promised to return the phone,” she said. But that has not happened till now.

The problem for Sameera did not end there. After media reports on the incident, the young mother faced a lot of cyber-bullying through Facebook, WhatsApp and in the form of comments below YouTube videos of her story.

“Those comments said that my daughter used to carry a phone to school earlier and she was warned. Many also said my daughter was ousted from a school earlier. All those baseless comments which were not true at all made my daughter depressed. She told me she might stop her studies,” Sameera told TNM.

The toxic harassment took a turn for the worse when Sameera started receiving WhatsApp messages on her new phone.

“I received many WhatsApp messages questioning my morality. I suspect that the school authorities are behind this attack. We are really scared,” she said. 

She filed a complaint with the Kannapuram police station. However, she still hasn't received the phone from the school as promised.

Meanwhile, Sameera shared concerns about whether the school management might have misused the data in the phone over the past eight months.

Despite repeated attempts, the school refused to react.

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