A Class IX student of Holy Cross School at Pabiachhara in Kumarghat, Tripura died last week at GBP hospital after being allegedly tortured repeatedly by the hostel warden. The deceased student has been identified as Happy Debbarma.
According to the reports, the death of 15-year-old Debbarma has now forced the Tripura government to launch a judicial enquiry. The student died due to internal injury following a brutal attack on him by the hostel superintendent.
Reportedly, an FIR was lodged against the warden of Holy Cross School at Kumarghat, Bulchung Halam, who reportedly used to torture Happy Debbarma without any reasons. On September 25, the warden entered into Happy’s room and kicked him severely that the victim sustained injuries.
The police had arrested the fathers of the Christian school and the main accused warden Halam after the victim’s mother filed a complaint. Later, the court released two Christian fathers identified as Joe Paul and Father Alfred on bail. However, Bulchung and Father Lency D’Souza was sent to judicial custody for their alleged direct involvement in the crime.
The officials stated that the deceased Happy Debbaram had been opposing several conversion attempts of poor students by warden Halam. When the warden tried to convert Debbarma, he revolted leaving him angry. In the afternoon, Bulchung summoned Happy Debbarma in an isolated corner outside the hostel, which was not covered under CC camera.
“Bulchung punched Happy severely on his chest accusing him of opposition in conversion. When Happy was fallen, Bulchung stood on him and thrashed him brutally. The torture on Happy was reportedly known to the in-charge of the school Father Lency D’Souza and when he saw Bulchung had gone violent D’Souza along with two other accused rescued him. He was given primary treatment and warned him not to disclose it to others,” the report stated.
The next day, to manage the situation they had forced Happy to write his last exam in the school. Later in the afternoon he was handed over to his mother for vacation. As Happy reached home, he was found suffering from severe chest pain and high fever. Soon his parents took him to a private doctor on September 29 last. Three days passed but there was no improvement in his situation, he was then admitted to a different hospital.
Instead of taking Happy in the district hospital, the parents brought him to Agartala Govt Medical College where doctors attending him found serious internal damage in his respiratory system, heart and lung and his condition deteriorated very fast in the hospital.
At final stage of his life, Happy divulged the gruesome incident perpetrated on him and how others in the school hostel have been tortured by the Fathers and hostel Warden non-academic issues to his mother on the condition if he survived they should not send him to the hostel again, the reported said quoting the victim’s mother.
The victim’s mother Rajmala Debbarma, an ICDS worker stated to police that Happy used to protest against the warden for telling lie to the Father and Principal of the Holy Cross School several times about the students who protested his undue demands and proposals. The suicide of a girl student last year was also due to pressure on her for religious conversion.
“The death of Happy Debbarma raised many questions about the functioning of the private convent schools especially missionary run institutions. Last year, one Lahari Debbarma of Auxiillum School here had committed suicide after she was being ill-treated by the sisters branding her thief as alleged by a shopping mall. The CID investigation was ordered by the state government but nothing has come out yet,” said a senior officer in the state administration.
State Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath said there are series of allegations against private schools and the government is going develop a regulatory mechanism to handle such incidents. The government has taken some stringent measures to ensure the safety and security of the students in the schools, said Minister Nath.
Last year, a teenaged tribal girl student had also committed suicide in the hostel following pressure from the warden and fathers of the school to convert her and the entire family into Christianity. Reportedly, the missionary schools in the tribal-dominated rural areas have been indulging conversion into Christianity in the name of convent style education taking advantage of poverty and the absence of English medium schools.
According to the reports, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has taken a serious note of the incident after hearing about the gloomy situations in the school where forceful conversion into Christianity has been a regular phenomenon. Following this, the Tripura government has decided to refer the incident to judicial enquiry.