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The Assam Valley School Story- what went wrong?

Learning in today’s time is really complex. When all round development is of essence and not just marks, the education system has a collective responsibility to ensure that in the quest for excellence and discipline, the innocence of a child is not lost.

On the fateful day of 6th July, the lives of three children in a very reputed school of Upper Assam changed forever. The Assam Valley School which has brought from its ranks achievers in almost every part of the sphere was left in a deafening silence. The three student’s one the victim and the other two alleged perpetrators. While there was general public outrage that the thirteen year old boy Rahul Modi(name changed to protect the identity), student of class 7, had to undergo serious medical procedures(Jaw Surgery at Nemcare Hospital, Bhangagarh in Guwahati and two Titanium Plates were  fixed), it got more complicated with time as people forgot that the other two boys were only 14 years old.

Social media went gung-ho in taking sides when one page was created to tell that the victim was a liar. Apparently a liar with 5 broken teeth and a fractured jaw and a bloody face!!! The school authorities vehemently deny it was the case of ragging or bullying and only a game of WWE gone wrong. (Well if the case was of ragging and bullying then the school could/would/will have landed in soup with the WWE authorities on whose back it was piggybacking to get out of the situation. Time will only tell).

Eastern Panorama tried to  get in touch with the authorities of Assam Valley School with an email asking the school to make its stand.(the email is reprinted for the readers). We received a reply from Mr Amitabh Dey, Deputy Head of the School who asked for some time (till 17th of July) to respond to the mail. However the school authorities were advised not to share information regarding the incident which was very disheartening and the entire set of questions which we had asked is reprinted for the readers. (The questions mostly relate to the schools Standard Operating procedure on Physical Abuse). Notably the school authorities did appear in the electronic media and we feel our questions were hitting the tight spots that the school did not want to answer.

We also got in touch with the uncle of Rahul Modi, Mr Sagar Gupta. The shocked family’s main concern today is nothing but the well being of their child. It is estimated that the 13 year old kid will continue to feel the pain for at least another 5 years as surgery and other medical procedures required cannot be done because of his growing age. It seemed nothing else mattered to them. The two seniors (only by a year) were handed differential punishment.The reason for the same best known to the school authorities as they must have come to a conclusion and passed a judgment. One of the students was put in seclusion and the other student was made a day scholar.

 The people on the social media did not stop ranting and counter ranting their comments. The families of the three students went through an ordeal which no one should face. The tragedy here is the response of the school. According to the copy of FIR filed by the father of the aggrieved student the initial response of the school really shows how poorly the case was handled. It must be mentioned that the school has a standard operating procedure during the cases of physical abuse….(Entire code is reproduced for the readers). Also the school has an Anti Bullying Protocol. (Preamble and Mission statement is reproduced). We are also reproducing a select paragraph of letter sent by UTSAH Universal Team for Social Action and Help who were approached by the aggrieved family. The following paragraph is point number 5 of Recommendations for the Assam Valley School (for purposes of primary prevention).


The School should connect itself with the larger Child Protection System of the State, so as to avoid suppression of child protection issues within the school by any interest group. District Child Protection Offices and Child welfare Committees can provide effective support to the school to address their child protection concerns

Points raised seeing the above, did the school not try to hide the facts? Did they not try to mislead the parents? Why would School with such a reputation stoop to such an, extent that it will play with a child’s life. Yes, Rahul nearly died and the trauma we can only hope does not live long. The DM , RMO and various other officers were at fault and the school should have asked them to put down their papers and set an example.

Then dear parents AVS would have set an example. Punishing the kids would be futile as the age of 14 can be considered a leap into puberty and things are not that clear. However that does not entail the two vulnerable kids to go scot free. The need to be gently and I repeat gently made to realize what wrong they have done. Especially the family members of the kids ought to be talked to. If anything of AVS is to be said and done then their SOP on codification of NO-Tolerance Policy on Physical Abuse says there can be no exceptions made for any pupil in the school. Irony is the kid Rahul had 5 broken teeth. No game of neck lock can break the teeth. We confirmed this from Banshanglang Kharumnuid, seven time National champion karate-Do and SAF games silver medalist. The point of neck lock was informed by DHM, Amitabh Agnihotri and Mr Amit Jugran, teacher to the parents of the victim which was mentioned in the FIR. Till the filing of the report this was not contested. Well if all was well EP has been made to believe that many of the officers of AVS have already applied for anticipatory bail. 

Why need it if you have followed your code of conduct on ragging and bullying? If the internal school investigation was not suppressed by vested interest? Or if the child’s life was not put to risk and nearly taken to safeguard the interest of school? Pity it is that the authorities or people in charge forgot what a school is without its pupil?

And we forgot to tell the readers that the school had informed all the other parents in a recently conclude dmeeting that; it was a game among friends that went wrong? Can the school management compromise on any child’s life by keeping inept teachers, medical officers, head masters or any officer for that matter? Or should the school even run if the school management is party to it?"

The handling of the Rahul Modi case is extremely incensitive and is a failure. What the school has managed to do is in its aspirations for achieving excellence it has made sure that these three boys have lost the innocence of their childhood and teenage. Hope other parents unite to make sure such a painful act is never repeated anywhere anytime. 

Harsh Jhunjhunwala