13 year old Harsh commits suicide in Surat. Who is to blame?

Just few days back I read in a newspaper about a 13-year-old school boy committing suicide by hanging at his residence in Udhna area of Surat. The reason cited by the police for his death was that the child was upset on being scolded by a family member. We are investigating the reason why was he scolded. He ended his life when his parents went to have an afternoon nap after lunch. His name was Om Mahale.

Harsh Shah
Harsh Shah

Similarly, we came across another pitiful tale of a 9th standard boy. A physical training teacher Arjun Chaudhary of LNB Daliya School (Adajan, Surat) has been booked by the police in connection with the suicide of a 13-year-old student named Harsh. It is said that Harsh was traumatized by Arjun sir. The teacher had slapped and beaten him so many times. Police booked Arjun Chaudhary after a complaint lodged by Arjun Shah, father of deceased Harsh. The deceased had returned from school in the afternoon and since then he was in his room. As he did not come out of the room till late evening, his parents tried to open the door but it was locked from inside. When they broke the door, they found Harsh hanging from the ceiling.

The deceased, who had hung himself with a nylon rope, also left a suicide note. He asked his father to give some 20 odd slaps to Arjun sir if he comes across him. He even had the name “Arjun” scribed on his hand by a pen. The family was completely taken aback. They came to know how he was harassed by the teacher and that forced him to take such a drastic step. School authorities informed police that the accused teacher rarely came in direct contact with the teenager. They further told police that the teenager was allegedly caught cheating in the examination few days back and hence was upset.

This had definitely left me in a dilemma thinking who is to be blamed for this? Why did the thought of committing suicide ever popped up in the tender mind of a kid? Arjun sir was harsh, brutal on him. But couldn’t he speak up his mind or share the events with his family or friends? Why was he withdrawn enough not to share these things?

This also raises a big question on recruitment of such teachers in schools. Being a P.T. teacher, we could assume that he may be fierce and strict. But does that give him authority to beat or slap students? Or is the school responsible for not taking strict measures when such incidents take place? Or is the society to be blamed who regards teachers with utmost respect and they are considered to be equivalent to gods?  There had been many cases in the recent times citing that the teachers has been involved in some kind of physical violence. Students are not animals. True? It is creepy to know that only in India teachers beat students. In the west this is considered as a serious crime. No teacher has a right to cause any kind of physical harm to a child. It leaves them emotionally bewildered.

Harsh's Suicide Note
Harsh’s Suicide Note

Guidelines issued by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights on banning corporal punishment, 2007. Corporal punishment involves, rapping on the knuckles, running on the school ground, kneeling down for hours, standing up for long hours, sitting like a chair, and beaten with a scale, pinched and slapped, child sexual abuse, torture, locking up children alone in classrooms, ‘electric shock’ and all other acts leading to insult, humiliation, physical and mental injury, and even death. It is being noticed that corporal punishment in schools both government as well as private is deeply ingrained as a tool to discipline children and as a normal action. All forms of corporal punishment are a fundamental breach of human rights. A slap is as detrimental to the child’s right as grievous injury. The Supreme Court has banned corporal punishment for children when it directed the State to ensure “Children are not subjected to corporal punishment in schools and they receive education in an environment of freedom and dignity, free from fear”. Children are as human and sensitive as adults are, if not more. They need to be secure with a caring atmosphere. Many parents who are aware of this law have taken the necessary judicial steps when they found their child trapped in such situation.

The next big question that arises is “Why was the child not able to discuss this matter with his elders or family members”? What must have stopped him? Was he so afraid to speak up his mind? Why did he feel that giving up life would be the only solution to this problem? The children of this generation are agile and smart but only when it comes to using technology. They are not taught about the fruits and failures of life. They see life as a cake walk and the moment they see that the icing is melting, they tend to slip. It has to be taken into consideration that the kid right from the tender age needs to be taught about life and its sways.

Harsh seemed to be a victim of bad situation and terror. He thought that if he gives up things would become better. He thought that if he did this that would compel everyone to reprimand the teacher and for that he gave away his precious life. Only if he was taught to be strong enough to face the worse situations it would have been a different situation. Being the only son his parents, life has become traumatic for his parents. They want justice for their son. Getting Arjun Chaudhary punished won’t bring back their son but it would ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else. We would definitely not like to jump to any conclusions right now. The case is still looked upon by the cops. Let’s see what would be the outcome. But we lost a gem like Harsh in all this. We hope that such matters are solved much in prior without a life being at sake.

Asha Kumar
Asha has completed her Engineering in the field of I.T. and now pursuing M.B.A. from Somlalit Institute of Management (Ahmedabad). She is intense, introvert and extremely impatience. Writing is sheer love and passion for her. "I become the Alice from Alice in Wonderland when I start writing. It takes me to a different horizon. There are so many things that I discover when I start to pen down my thoughts. It gives me immense pleasure." says Asha.