A 14-year-old student of a reputed residential blind school in Assam has been forced to quit following alleged torture including forcibly made to drink his own urine. With this incident coming to light two months after it allegedly occurred, state chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Sunday directed institution of magisterial inquiry into it.
The incident allegedly happened on September 26 in the Sreemanta Sankar Mission Barhampur Blind School in Nagaon district in central Assam, with Deba Tati (14) saying six of his roommates accused him of passing urine in the room, following which they beat him up, forced urine into his mouth and then tried to even strangulate him with a bedsheet.
“Six boys first accused me of urinating inside the hostel room, and then beat me, after which they even forced me to drink urine. They also tore my bedsheet and said they will tie a noose around my neck,” Deba Tati told The Indian Express over the telephone from his residence in Tezpur. Barhampur is about about 65 kms from Tezpur, and the blind school – the oldest in the entire Northeast – run by Sreemanta Sankar Mission was set up in 1955.
He said he screamed for help, but nobody came to his rescue. “Luckily, I resisted the noose and managed to save myself. They however continued to threaten me for the next two days and said even the media cannot come to save me,” Deba said. A lady caretaker who looks after the boys’ hostel does not stay in the hostel at night.
While the incident allegedly happened on September 26, Deba left for home two days later when his mother Hema Tati went to bring him home for the Durga puja holidays that began on September 28. “It was only after reaching home that he told us everything and said he won’t go back to school again,” his mother said. The co-educational blind school has about 60 students from Class I to X, with boys and girls lodged in two separate hostels.
Deba’s parents, father Bhairab Tati and mother Hema Tati, are both daily-wage labourers. While Deba had lost his eyesight after a chicken pox infection immediately after birth, his eldest sister Bani got married after dropping out from Class V. His younger sister Pompi, a Class IX drop-out also works as a daily-wage labourer.
The entire episode came to light only on Friday when the family got a telephone call from a teacher of the school asking Deba to return because the annual examination was drawing near. “The family approached me and insisted that I accompany them to drop the boy in the school. When I enquired why, they told me the whole story.
“When I further inquired why they had not revealed this for so long, they said they were not sure what exactly to do,” said Tuntun Borah, a neighbour and an anganwadi worker who finally informed the media about it.
“We came to know about the incident only through the television news yesterday evening,” said Kamakhya Prasad Sarma, secretary of the Sreemanta Sankar Mission, a Nagaon-based organization that had pioneered education for the blind way back in 1950.
“On rushing to the school (which is about 10 kms from Nagaon), one of the teachers admitted to the incident, but could not explain why the matter was not reported to us,” Sarma told The Indian Express from Nagaon today.
A three-member delegation of the Mission led by Sarma went to Tezpur, met Deba and his parents and requested them to send the boy back with assurance that such incidents would not occur again. “But the boy is still scared. We have meanwhile ordered an internal inquiry. One of the six boys Deba mentioned to us in confidence admitted to having assaulted him and forced urine on him,” Sarma said.