(Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicide. If you feel suicidal or know someone in distress, please reach out to them with kindness and call these of local emergency services, helplines, and mental health NGOs.)
"His teacher Ajit Pandey abused him and hurled casteist slurs at him. He said that you belong to the Kumhar community, SC community, you have no right to study," said Alha Prajapati, father of the 14-year-old Dalit boy Amit Prajapati, who died by suicide on the night of Sunday, 1 January in Madhya Pradesh's Sidhi district.
Amit studied in class 8 of the residential Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Churhat in the Sidhi district. He left a note accusing his teacher Ajit Pandey of harassing him and abusing his parents.
The incident happened in Padkhuri area under Rampur Naikin police station limits of the Sidhi district.
Abuses Pushed Amit to Take the Drastic Step, Claim Parents
Amit had scored 98 percent marks in his entrance exams to the Navodaya Vidyalaya in 2020 and he was also good in sports, his parents said.
"He was as good in sports as he was in studies. Recently, he won trophies in basketball. The school's principal extended her help but what would I need help with, now that my Amit is no more,"Alha lamented.
Alha Prajapati, who works in a brick kiln in the Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh, alleged that Ajit Pandey was constantly harassing his child and pushed him to death.
"When Amit had come home in December on a three-day leave to attend a relative's wedding, he had told me about his teacher Ajit Pandey harassing him. So I talked to his teacher but he told us that he only scolded Amit for his good. But about a fortnight later, on 22 December, the same teacher dropped Amit off at our home at around 12 am in the night saying that Amit was involved in some bad activities and that he was mentally disturbed,"said Alha Prajapati while controlling himself from bursting into tears.
Amit, who was the youngest of the three sons of Alha Prajapati and his wife Rukmani Prajapati, was home since that day.
The accused teacher, Ajit Pandey, while talking to media on 2 January, said that they had been getting complaints of Amit being involved in theft. He further claimed that Amit was sent home because he had complained of not feeling well.
"We got some complaints about the child Amit Prajapati from his classmates regarding Amit's involvement in cases of theft. He was also not feeling well that day so he was sent home. We also had a word with his father and discussed the issue with him and asked him to drop the child off at school once he recovers."– Ajit Pandey
Ajit Pandey, however could not be reached even after multiple attempts by The Quint. This copy will be updated as and when he responds.
A note that Amit allegedly left behind states that his teacher Ajit Pandey harassed him and also cursed his parents.
"... I made a mistake that day. He (Ajit Pandey) cursed a lot. Sent all the boys down and said bad words to me. My parents were also called beggars. He called them junkies and sewer worm,"the note read.
"Then he also said that (I) should die after consuming poison or hang myself," the note further read.
The note at the end said 'Sorry Papa' and was signed under the name of Amit Prajapati dated 31/12/22.
Police Lodged FIR Under IPC Section of Abetment of Suicide of Child and Sections of SC/ST Act
Following the incident, the police registered a first information report under the IPC section 305 (abetment of suicide of child) and relevant sections of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Talking to The Quint, Sudhanshu Tiwari, incharge of Rampur Naikin police station said:
"We have registered an FIR and are trying to get the teacher. He has applied leave and is absconding. We have sent notices to him and would take further legal action if he doesn't comply."
Police sources on Wednesday, 11 January, told The Quint that as per the investigation till date, they have uncovered that Ajit Pandey abused Amit and used derogatory words and curses, including casteist remarks, which took a toll on him and pushed him to die by suicide.