All he wanted was to ensure that his stubborn seven-year-old daughter appeared for her maths exam. But all that got him was a night in a police lockup, a challan and a criminal case registered in his name.
For, in his desire to see his daughter take another step towards a life he couldn’t have, this security guard from a village near Mathura tied her to his motorcycle and took her to school. Unfortunately for him, this bizarre journey was captured on camera by a group of journalists visiting the neighbouring village.
Last Saturday, Bhagat Singh, who is employed with a public school in Nagla Mana village in Mathura, was arrested under Section 323 of the IPC (causing hurt) after the visuals quickly went viral over the Internet. A day later, the 40-year-old was let out on bail.
On Thursday afternoon, sitting on a charpoy outside his one-room house, his daughter by his side, Singh said, “Mein sirf yahi chahta tha ki woh exam dede. Shayad mera tareeka sahi nahi tha (I only wanted her to appear for the exam. Perhaps, the method I used was not right).”
He added: “All through that night in jail, I thought about what I had done and why I did it. If she failed, my monthly income of Rs 7000, with six mouths to feed, would not have allowed me to help her in any way… I only want her to study. I don’t want her to end up like me. I want all my children to do well and escape this life of poverty.”
As he spoke, his daughter asked him to help her cut pictures out of her science book and paste them on a chart paper, for her craft class.
“Her exams are on. Both her elder sister and her younger brother are studying and performing well. She doesn’t learn from them. She only seems to enjoy her craft class. She is difficult to tackle, this one,” said Singh, turning to tease his daughter, who laughs before hiding behind him.
For the last ten years, Singh has been employed as the security guard, putting in 12 hours a day just so that his five children can get good education. “My wife is ill and I shell out at least Rs 3,500 a month. I could easily have put them in a government school. But I didn’t do that thinking the education at a public school would be more beneficial. Which is why I push them everyday to study,” he said.
Last Saturday, he added, the three children were woken up at 6 am by their mother Rajvati. While the elder sister and brother got ready, the seven-year-old wandered off into the field nearby.
The child’s elder sister then picks up the story. “Our mother kept calling her, but she refused to go to school. When she insisted, my sister bit her hand. This angered our mother who slapped her and told her that she would have to take the exam or else she would tie her up. When my sister still didn’t listen, our mother tied her hands with a rope. Me and my brother left for school and informed our father who came back home to collect my sister,” she said.
But when Singh came, the little girl threw a fit, prompting Singh and Rajvati to drag her to his motorcycle. “I looked everywhere so that I could find someone to ride pillion, with my daughter in the middle, just so that she could be taken to school. But I couldn’t find anyone. So I tied her to the motorcycle, fearing that she might jump off and get hurt,” Singh said.
At the same time, a group of journalists and policemen had assembled at a nearby village where the statue of a freedom fighter had been decapitated. The journalists were returning at around 9:30 am when they saw Singh on his way to the school about a kilometre away from his house, with his daughter tied up and bent over the motorcycle.
Later, police also came to know that Singh had locked his daughter inside a room in the school for a brief while when she again refused to appear for the exam. “I hate maths,” his daughter said.
Eventually, Singh was taken into custody for a day. “We also issued him a challan under section 151 CrPc. He was kept for one night in the lock-up and released on bail thereafter,” said SP City Shailesh Pandey.
But amidst all this, there was a silver lining for the father: a school official told The Indian Express that Singh’s daughter would be given another chance to appear for the maths test.