Bihar students blast media for focusing only on caste in school beating case

MUZAFFARPUR: A few days back a video of some students of Kendriya Vidyalaya Gannipur mercilessly beating up a fellow student had gone viral. NDTV carried an article by the victim student where he claimed that he was beaten up as he was a Dalit and because he was getting good grades.

The incident made national news with Union HRD Minister Prakash Javdekar taking cognizance of the situation and promising action against those responsible and helping the victim. As a result, around twenty teachers of that school were transferred and the principal was suspended by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (managing body of the chain of schools).

The school saw visits by many politicians including senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, who claimed that Dalits were not safe in Bihar. Local administration too swung into action and a case under the SC/ST act was filed, making arrest of the principal a possibility.

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Now these developments have sent other students and their parents into state of panic. With exams around the corner, they fear that the mass transfer of teachers and suspension of the principal could adversely affect their future. Already classes have been suspended in the school ever since the case got nationwide attention.

Some students have now come out in support of the principal and are blaming politicians and media for the current situation. A video showing some angry girls from the school has gone viral where these girls can be heard condemning the violence against the student, but finding it troublesome that only caste was made the focus by the media and then by the politicians.

One girl in the beginning of the video claims that she herself is a Dalit but didn’t face any discrimination in the school, while another girl, angrily, asks media to stop focusing entirely on caste:

Those accused of beating up the student have been arrested and sent to remand homes as they were juveniles. Reports suggest that these juvenile offenders had a history of indulging in such violence in the school. Even their father is an accused in a murder case and currently lodged in jail.

This surely puts the school administration in question as to why these guys were not taken to task earlier if they had a history of such acts. Did the teachers fear retribution or were they being irresponsible? However, it also suggests that caste could not be the only reason for the criminal behavior by these goons.

Nonetheless, the case exposes many flaws in our education system – how schools are not safe from bullies, how outsider and political intervention can upset normal functioning of schools, and how media and politicians should be extra careful when dealing with issues that can impact young lives.

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