10-year-old boy attempts suicide in class

Fearing punishment for not doing his homework, 10-year-old Ajay Pramod Jadhav poured kerosene over his body and set himself ablaze in his classroom at his school here on Wednesday.

The classroom where Ajay Pramod Jadhav tried to immolate himself. DH Photo

The class four student of Neelakantheshwara Vidya Mandira run by the Siddeshwara Samsthe suffered 65 per cent burns and was shifted to Sholapur in Maharashtra for treatment, after being given first aid at the district government hospital. His condition is said to be serious.

In a statement to the APMC police before being taken to Sholapur, Ajay said he was scared of the punishment he might get from Radhika Rajput, his teacher. He said in the past Rajput punished him for similar misdemeanour by making him strip in the classroom.

Jadhav said he had brought kerosene in his water bottle and a match box, to end his life.
Mediapersons visited Ajay’s classroom and found a half-filled bottle of kerosene, a match box, the school uniform on the bench and kerosene spilled on the floor.

When Ajay, in flames, started screaming, the alarmed teachers and students rushed to the classroom on the first floor. They poured water on him, summoned the ‘108’ ambulance and rushed him to the hospital. Ajay’s parents, Pushpa and Pramod, then decided to shift him to Sholapur.

The teacher in question, Radhika Rajput, told Deccan Herald that she had never given punishment of any kind to any student. She said she had joined the school in July and was very kind to all students. Rajput described Ajay as a good student.

Headmistress Aruna Tenahalli and other teachers said Rajput had been “a very sober teacher” and did not punish her students. The school staff insisted that the boy may have attempted suicide due to cruelty at home. They said his parents had forcibly sent the boy to a residential coaching class in Talikoti. But he returned and joined their school.

R Y Konnur, the Bijapur City block education officer, said he had conducted an inquiry. By the time he reached the district government hospital, the boy had been shifted to Sholapur.

Konnur said if the teacher was found guilty, the school’s recognition may be withdrawn and the management may be asked to dismiss the headmistress and the teacher concerned.

He said Rs 25,000 may be given from the Students’ Welfare Fund for Ajay’s treatment. T H Melinkeri, Incharge DDPI, and subject inspector Ashok Limkar visited the school, made inquiries and later left for Sholapur. D Vasantprema, the deputy director of the women and children development, along with Vithal Upadhyaya, district child protection officer, also left for Sholapur. APMC police inspector Dyamannavar told reporters that no case had been filed. Nagasimha G Rao, director of the Child Rights Trust of Bangalore, said that subjecting a child to corporal punishment was an offence.

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