October 10th, 2015
Eight girls were seriously injured and hospitalized when police lathi charged a group of 150 girls on 30th September in Chauru (Aligarh), Tonk district, Rajasthan. These girls were protesting against the lack of teachers and poor quality of education in their government-run school when local police responded with a lathi charge. It is alleged that the policemen were drunk when they reached the site. Many students jumped off from the nearby bridge to save themselves from the brutal attack. According to the Right to Education Act, 2009, no child must face any kind of corporal punishment.
This secondary school in Chauru (Uniyara Block) does not have teachers for Social Sciences, Sanskrit, and English. The girls decided to protest on the nearest national highway no.116 at 8:00 AM to demand more teachers. After their requests were ignored by school authorities for two months, the girls had no choice but to protest. The local Station House Officer (SHO) soon reached the site in full force and lathi charged the young girls. Unable to bear the brutality many girls were forced to jump from the nearby bridge, fearing for their lives. Many more villagers thereafter joined the protest and, in response to the cruelty by police, they too pelted stones in which some SHO got minor injuries.
“This act of brutality comes at a time when the state should be actively supporting the educational needs of the students by appointing sufficient teachers and providing quality education. Strict action must be taken against the officers involved in this police brutality” said Sonam Mittal, campaigner at Jhatkaa.org, who has started a petition to bring justice to the affected girls. The petition asks the Director General of Police, Rajasthan, Mr. Manoj Bhatt to take swift and strict against the SHO and other officers involved in this incident. More than 2500 Jhatkaa members have signed the petition in just a matter of days.
A delegation of activists went to meet the DGP who admitted that the police operation was wrong and also spoke of taking action. Activists have made the following demands:
- An FIR be immediately registered against the policemen who carried out the operation.
- The girls who have been seriously injured must get free medical care and compensation.
- The District Collector and the District Education Officer must meet the girls in the hospital and those in the school in order to help stabilise the situation, help build trust, and alleviate the legitimate concerns of the girls.
- The criteria and standards laid down for education must be immediately met including sanctioning adequate teachers and providing adequate infrastructure.
“It has been over 10 days since the incident and not a single official statement addressing the issue has been made by the administration or the state government,” says Radhika Ganesh, member of Shiksha Ka Sawaal Abhiyan, which is a statewide campaign in Rajasthan that seeks to initiate and sustain the community monitoring of schools and public education.
“We met the DGP Mr. Manoj Bhatt the very next day. He expressed his sympathy to the plight of the young girls but did not take any concrete action against the drunken policemen,” said Mukesh Goswami, also a member of Shiksha Ka Sawaal Abhiyan.
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