December 18, 2014 3:50:48 am
By Rohit Alok & Tabassum Barnagarwala
School students across Mumbai responded emotionally to the mass murder of more than 130 school children in Peshawar on Tuesday, their expressions of outrage and solidarity ranging from discussions on social media to poetry and art.
In Powai’s Gopal Sharma school, when principal Gool Ghadiali took the stage to start the morning assembly at 8 am, she noticed her students still appeared to be in shock by the previous day’s attacks.
“We had extended our assembly by 45 minutes to discuss the events. 12-16 year-old students openly shared their opinions. One of the comments in the session made was that ‘these children were not even safe in a place like their school that is considered a temple of learning,’” Ghadiali said.
An assistant professor with the Mumbai University and its director of student affairs, Dr Mrudul Nile, said his Whatsapp group with his students was constantly buzzing. “One of the students posted Hillary Clinton’s comments ‘You can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them to only bite your neighbour, and that just started a very emotional discussion on the topic.’”
Students and teachers from R N Podar, who actively use a Facebook group, Dristikone, to discuss topical matters, vented their feelings on the forum. “Those students who are usually silent and passive took to Facebook to express themselves. While some wrote poetry, others decided to make postcards online and send these to the victims’ families through Facebook,” said Avnita Bir, principal of R N Podar.
Deetshika Srivastava, the principal of Rajhans Vidyalaya in Andheri, said she overheard girls from the 5th standard discuss the topic the entire day. “They are not even sparing children,” she heard them saying.
In SNDT College, Matunga, a two-minute silence was observed. Shabana Khan, professor of Urdu literature at the college, said, “We narrated the entire episode to students and explained the background of the incident. A discussion with the on the the consequences of such terror activities and the extremist views was also held.”
In Kurla’s A I Allana English High school, teachers and students observed silence for two minutes.
Utpal Shanghvi school principal Abha Dharampal said they “sensitised the children on the importance of staying safe. “Police personnel from the Juhu police station came and we showed them our installed camera system and security control room. We were advised by the police to be on the lookout for people doing a recee of the school and restrict entry of unnecessary people in the school,” she said.
“We discussed the news in the classrooms and have asked children to put up cuttings over the next three days. We put forward a debate question: Should all public exhibition of religions be banned? Should religious functions not be held? These questions will be discussed by students from classes 6-10 in the next three days and we are planning a mock security drill for students in the near future,” Seema Sheikh, principal Pragnya Bodini High School in Goregaon, said.
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