Babysana’s death is a tragic event in itself. Her death should not be treated as an isolated event. It should open our eyes to what is wrong in this society. She is one among many children whose lives schools have claimed in Manipur. Moreover, numerous narratives on corporal punishments in Babysana’s school have come up. These events must connect to give us the truth of what is going on in the schools of this society. Babysana’s case is the most immediate one in front of us. Hence, the truth of what happens to our children in the schools and the question of how these schools should treat our children have emerged with this event. Therefore, it should not be only pursued in terms of what JAC wants to do with the school authority, what actually happened in this case or who the guilty is in this case, even though these questions are extremely necessary. We also need to look into the larger matter, why such an incident has happened. We need to look into a society where children go to schools and turn up dead. It is where the responsibility of the state comes. Given that, this modern state has organs specifically to deal with the rights of children.
When it comes to the state, Education Department and Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights should look after these matters but the truth is nothing has been done so far. These events clearly show us. Education Department of Manipur, which instructed its teachers against corporal punishment, has not said anything on the matter even when Standard Robarth School has a history in it. It has not done anything. Recently, Manipur Alliance for Child Rights (MACR) appealed the Manipur Human Rights Commission to provide immediate ‘Psycho-Social Care’ and support to the 36 minors who happened to be room inmates of Babysana. Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights which should be concerned with Babysana’s case has got itself into a terrible situation. The chairperson of the commission is a co-accused in a POSCO case. A class X student of JNV Mao was sexually assaulted by the Principal of the school in February this year. The chairperson of MCPCR had knowledge about the incident but she never reported to the police. Given this, her name appeared in the chargesheet of this POSCO case as it is mandatory to report the case if anyone comes to know. It is an unprecedented event in history of child rights in India where a body constituted to protect rights of the children is itself named in the chargesheet. The story of child rights has become worse. It was just bad earlier. There are other controversies that have marred MCPCR, the qualifications of the chairperson, the appointment of her husband as consultant and her past as a BJP member. There have been remarks earlier from National Commission that the state of Manipur is not bothered with the rights of children in Ibobi’s time. The same seems to continue till now. These are the symptoms of what ails this society.
The tragic event of Babysana’s death has open up questions on the treatment of children in the schools of this society. No death is an individual event; it is an event that matters to a lot. This tragic death is not only about where she was killed or not, whether it is a murder or not, whether it is a case of suicide or abetted suicide. It is also about the failure of the state and schools in this society and the perspectives with which they look at the mind and the body of our children. Hence, it matters to all of us.
- Published in Editorial