Mumbai school shuns student after ‘suicide’ scare

Claim teen was about to jump off building; parents complain to education dept, rights panel

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In the second week of December,  Sugran Navte stormed out of class after being scolded and stood on the ledge of her Vikhroli school building.

Vidya Mandir High School authorities told Sugran’s parents to give an undertaking that their daughter is not “suicidal” and the school will not be held responsible if she does anything to endanger her life.

The parents have complained to the education authorities after the school refused to allow the Class nine student to attend class.
They approached the NGO Social Action for Literacy and Health (SALAH), who tried to reason with the school authorities to achieve a resolution. When this failed, they wrote to the education inspector (north), the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SPCR) and the State Human Rights Commission about the matter.

On being scolded by her teacher, Sugran said she stormed out of class. “My one leg was on the ledge (which is three feet high) and the other was on the floor. I was standing there and sulking. But the teachers started saying that I was about to jump. I was not trying to jump. I was frustrated and angry, but I was only standing there.”

Following this incident, her father Shankar Navte received a call from the school.

He said, “The school authorities called me up and said that my daughter was suicidal and was trying to jump off the first floor of the school building. They said that I should submit a letter stating that the school will not be held responsible for her actions. But how can I give such a letter? I spoke to my daughter and she told me she was only standing there and was not going to jump. I am afraid that tomorrow if something happens to my daughter, the school will wash their hands off the incident.”

Navte added, “My daughter is being deprived of her lessons. This year is very important since it is the foundation for Class 10.”

Shyam Sonar, an activist with the Committee for Equal Fundamental Right to Education, which has also written to the state human rights commission and the SPCR on this matter, said, “The Right to Education Act states that children between 6 and 14 years cannot be removed from school. We need such laws to govern children over the age of 14 as well. We have written to the human rights commission to look into the matter so that such children are also protected.”

Despite repeated attempts to contact the school authorities, they were not available.

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