Assam student critical after assault by teacher

Guwahati, Aug 11 - A 13-year-old student in Assam is battling for life at a hospital after he fainted in the classroom following physical assault by his teacher.

Sailan Bardhan, a Class 8 student of Vivekananda Higher Secondary School in the western Assam town of Bongaigaon, is now in the ICU of a local hospital.

Class teacher Gopal Krishna Ray beat the student so severely that he became unconscious -- the immediate provocation for the assault was that Sailan requested the teacher to mark him present in the attendance register as he entered the classroom a little late.

'We saw our teacher boxing and slapping Sailan in his face and chest and back and he was frothing and then fainted,' said a student of the private school.

The teacher later fled the school, but resurfaced in the afternoon.

'The student was talking and disturbing others and so I slapped him without thinking he would faint,' the teacher said.

The school management ordered an internal inquiry into the incident.

Two months ago, a Class 6 student became Assam's first fatality to corporal punishment -- the child was physically assaulted by two teachers for not completing his homework.

Mousam Raj Mahanta, 12, died at a city hospital in Guwahati with doctors claiming his death was due to septic shock followed by multiple organ failure.

The incident took place at the Saraswati Siksha Niketan, an English medium school, at Mirza on the outskirts of Guwahati.

Interestingly, the Assam government in February introduced a tough law banning corporal punishments in schools with provision for prosecuting errant teachers, including suspension and even termination from service. The Assam Corporal Punishment for Educational Institutions - Bill is likely to become a law when it comes before the state assembly next month.

The decision to introduce the bill follows a recent Unicef study that gave Assam schools the dubious distinction of topping the list of Indian schools where corporal punishment and humiliation of students were rampant - 99.56 percent of students in Assam schools were victims of corporal punishment.

Once this bill becomes an act, a teacher could be prosecuted on a criminal charge, suspended from service, and even face termination of service, if found to have indulged in corporal punishment.