- Andhra Police chief, Education Department have been asked to investigate
- Corporal punishment still practised at some private schools and colleges
- Those found guilty can face jail term up to 3 years or fine of Rs 50,000
A group of students were brutally caned by a male teacher in Andhra Pradesh's Vizag district in a video that was filmed secretly by another student and shared with NDTV by a child rights activist. In the video, a man - believed to be the principal of the school - dressed in a white shirt and grey pants can be seen caning a young boy, while two others look on and at least three others cower in fear nearby. The video was taken at Bhashyam School in Anakapalle, which is around 25 kilometres from Visakhapatnam.
Achutya Rao, the child rights activist who shared the video, had appealed to the Andhra Police chief and Education Department authorities to investigate the caning and take appropriate action.
Late Thursday night PV Ramesh, Special Chief Secretary, Andhra Praadesh, said the teacher in question had been identified and placed under suspension.
"After due inquiry by DEO (district education officer), the perpetrator of crime - torture and violence against a juvenile - Seshagiri Rao, Principal of Bhashyam School, Anakapalle, has been placed under suspension and a criminal case has been registered," he tweeted.
The incident is a shocking reminder that corporal punishment continues to be routine matter, particularly at some private corporate schools and colleges where there is pressure to perform and excel. Such institutions report both a high success rate in competitive exams and an alarmingly high number of suicides.
Corporal punishment in schools and physical and mental abuse of students is banned by the Indian government but examples of such brutal behaviour continue to surface with disturbing regularity.
Last month a Class II student from Kerala's Kuruppanthara district was caned allegedly by his teacher for not being able to read a textbook. A few days before that a woman teacher allegedly thrashed as many as 29 girl students in a government-run school in Madhya Pradesh's Sagar district.
In October last year a Class X student was caned in Pudukkottai in Tamil Nadu, leaving vicious and bloody marks on his torso, for not completing his holiday homework.
Psychologists fear the effect of violence on the minds of students, who could resort to similarly brutal methods to get results when they grow up.
According to Union Ministry of Women and Child Development guidelines, teachers found violating the ban on corporal punishment could face a minimum of a year in jail and/or a fine of Rs 50,000 and prison terms of up to three years (with a fine of Rs 25,000) for repeated violations.
Principals and heads of schools are supposed to be responsible in implementing this ban. A child rights cell, where children can lodge complaints, is also supposed to be set up.