Student death a fallout of bullying episode

Update: 2023-02-01 19:07 GMT
Victoria Memorial Home and Residential School. (Photo:DC)

Hyderabad: The death of a Class 10 student of Victoria Memorial Home and Residential School, reportedly by suicide, seems to be a result of bullying, as found by the reporter in her interactions with students, ex-staff members and elected representatives.

School officials, however, continue to remain tight-lipped about the incident.

The body of the deceased, Hari Nayak, was found near Karmanghat, which is located around five kilometres from the school, on the morning of January 28.

Students, speaking on condition of anonymity to Deccan Chronicle, said that a day before the body was found, Nayak and a Class 9 student got into a tiff while washing clothes in the common area. As the argument turned physical, the Class 9 student was backed up by his brother, a Class 10 student of the same school.

They said that the siblings and their gang members followed Nayak and severely thrashed him. He escaped from the school premises at night by jumping off the compound wall, but was found dead the next day, students said.

Sai Sri, the deputy commissioner of police for LB Nagar, said, “It was teenage boys’ issue; a small verbal argument that led to loss of life. The boy was an orphan and there are many like him enrolled in the school. This age is fragile and they cannot handle loneliness and anger, leading to such steps being taken. These students need a lot of monitoring and counselling. There were no injuries found on the boy and the preliminary autopsy report says that the death was due to hanging,”

The school warden said that he was on leave on Friday night and that the issue did not come to the notice of his substitute. He said that the siblings involved in the fight were sent home.

Further, the warden said that students frequently jump off the compound wall and enter the woods, as the wall was low in height.

“The ground is very big and the school is spread over 70 acres. It is too big to handle many students with two security guards. Any student can escape from any corner. They go out at night and come back in the morning. We only file a complaint if the students do not return by morning,” the warden said.

A former staff member of the school, however, said that tighter security on Friday night could have averted an untoward incident, like suicide, which is what happened.

A visit to the school by the reporter found that a ragging culture was entrenched deeply in the school, with seniors frequently found bashing up younger students for no reason. Many students were also found drinking and smoking on the school premises, with no repercussions.

Students, when questioned, in turn, blamed the warden for using abusive language with them and beating them up frequently. They said that for a school strength of nearly 1,000 students, there were only 25 teachers. Also, no checks on illegal activities were done, with smoking, drinking and physical relationships among students commonplace. The students alleged that the school management is not bothered as most are either orphans or children of single parents. They also complained of poor food and unhygienic washrooms.

The ex-staff member of the school cited above said: “Teachers cannot even teach for 50 minutes at a stretch and keep talking to students to gain their trust to not complain against them. There are supposed to be night watchmen in the school, but we see students easily escaping. There is a mystery behind Hari’s death as that boy would never do such a thing. Currently there is no principal appointed to the school.”

Meanwhile, the Saroornagar councillor A. Srivani alleged a lack of proper education in the school and said that human trafficking takes place near the school. She said that Nayak was an orphan and following his death, his elder brother was promised a job and a two-bedroom house, while Nayak’s guardians were given a cheque for `5 lakh.

“The teachers are hardly educated. A sound budget, of around Rs 6 crore, is given to the school but we see no change or development. Where is all the money going?” she said.

Srivani said that the previous principal resigned from the school, given the horrible behaviour of the students and staff members.

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