'They Can't Even Sleep': Parents of Kids Abused in Arunachal's Patanjali School

In response to the outrage, the Arunachal government has issued an order to close down the school.

4 min read
Hindi Female

(Trigger Warning: Description of violence and assault. Reader discretion advised.)

"My son is adamant about not going back to school. He fears he will be beaten up badly again by another teacher there. He told me he wants to go to a different school, "Rosemary Kechi (name changed) tells The Quint.

Rosemary's son is a class 1 student at Acharyakulam, a primary school run by Patanjali Ayurveda in Seijosa in Arunachal Pradesh's Pakke-Kessang district. He is not alone in this plight.

A recent video of children with severe injury marks allegedly inflicted by a teacher from Acharyakulam has caused massive outrage among the people of the state. At least 20 children are reported to have been abused, according to the local police.

Choyang Tenzin (name changed), whose nine-year-old daughter was also allegedly beaten up, tells The Quint that the accused teacher, Sadhvi Devkriti, "assaulted her daughter so badly that she has not been able to move her hand at all."

"It has been over 4-5 days since my daughter was assaulted with a bamboo stick, but she is still not able to move her hands at all. My daughter is so scarred by this incident that she can't even sleep due to nightmares."
Choyang Tenzin

The school, which is located in Goloso village, inside a mega herbal garden owned by self-proclaimed godman Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurveda, was established two years ago. In light of the incident, Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust, which runs the school, terminated Sadhvi Devkriti's services on 10 December.

A case has also been registered against her at the Seijosa police station – and the matter is under investigation, according to Pakke-Kessang Superintendent of Police Tashi Darang.

"On 10 December, we received a complaint from a parent about their child being assaulted by their teacher at Acharyakulam and registered a case. We conducted a medical examination on the child and found that the injuries were not grievous," he added.


'Students Assaulted for Not Chanting Prayer Properly'

Nabam Thomas, president of the All Pakke-Kessang District Students' Union, tells The Quint that at least 20 students were physically abused last week on 7 December.

"While the class 1 students were beaten up for not chanting a prayer properly, students of classes 2 and 3 were assaulted for their apparent lack of proficiency in Sanskrit," he claims.

The Quint has reached out to Acharyakulam regarding these allegations. We will update this story with their responses as and when they revert.

Rosemary's son also told her that he and his classmates were beaten up for not chanting the prayer properly. "When my son came back from school that day [7 December], I noticed bruises all over him. When I asked him what had happened, he told me that his school in-charge had beaten up all his classmates [11 of them] for not chanting the prayer properly. We don't send our children to school so that they can be beaten to a pulp," Rosemary says.

In its inquiry into the incident, the Arunachal Pradesh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (APSCPCR), too, found that the school in-charge, Sadhvi Devkriti (who the students purportedly referred to as 'mataji'), had subjected students from classes 1 to 4 to physical abuse – and threatened them against talking about the incident with their parents.

School To Be Closed Down

In response the outrage, the Arunachal Pradesh government on Thursday, 14 December, issued a notification to close down the school in question in Seijosa.

Undersigned by TR Tapu, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Seijosa, the notification reads that after the incident came to light, he made "a physical visit to the school and made an enquiry about the case on 10 December."

"The case is reported to be true," it adds, further pointing out that the school was being run "without proper affiliation or registration to any of the government boards which is tantamount to violation of Section 18 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009."

"Hence, the school to close down until the matter is brought to a logical conclusion or any other provisions made for running the school under various rules of law," it concludes.

Meanwhile, EastMojo reported that Sadhvi Devkriti had "hastily left Seijosa within 24 hours of a written complaint filed by a concerned parent. Sources also reported that local police assisted her in crossing the Assam-Arunachal border."

The child rights' body has asserted that termination alone is not sufficient and demanded her immediate arrest and appropriate legal action. The panel has consistently recommended thorough background checks for all educational institute employees, both government and private, to prevent child rights violations, it said.

Yaje Nabam, president of Arunachal Pradesh Women's Welfare Society for Pakke-Kessang district, alleges to The Quint, "There has been a rise in such instances in private schools in the state. Kids need to be disciplined, no doubt, but such brutal means cannot be used. So, merely terminating the teacher's services is not sufficient. What if she goes and repeats the same behaviour in another school? We want her to be arrested because such incidents had been happening, but it has only come to light now."


'Mushrooming of Private Schools in Arunachal Pradesh'

APSCPCR member secretary Khoda Rakhi tells The Quint there has been an "unchecked mushrooming of private schools" in the state.

"The education department has to take note of the mushrooming of these private schools and carry out regular inspections at these schools to see if they are being run as per the RTE [Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009] Act. They need to find out about the character antecedent of a new recruit and why they left their previous job, among other details," she says.

"A teacher has to be trained before they are ready to take on a child's responsibility. We have received complaints about teachers being overburdened – and they then take out their stress on children."
Khoda Rakhi, member secretary, APSCPCR

A recent studyStudy on Enrolment and Attitudes of Parents towards Private Schools – found that private schools are mushrooming "in the capital complex of Arunachal Pradesh which reflects that its demand is increasing."

The study found that many parents also believed that private schools have more facilities, better teaching staff, and infrastructure than government schools.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from news and education

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More