K. Sagar, a principal for Navodaya Vidyalaya in Thandla town in Jhabua, in India, stands behind the teacher who allowed 14 other students to slap a 12-year-old student twice a day for six days. The girl was slapped a total of 168 times in January, reportedly because she did not turn in her homework. The girl’s father has filed a complaint with both the police and the school, but Principal Sagar defended the science teacher, Manoj Kumar Verma, by deeming the disciplinary method “friendly” punishment and went on to explain that the slaps were not strong but friendly and mild.
Though Principal Sagar said the school does not allow corporal punishment, Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines corporal punishment as “punishment that involves hitting someone” while Dictionary.com defines it as “physical punishment, especially by hitting with the hand or with a stick.” Sagar further went on to say that because the girl was “weak in studies and doesn’t complete her assignments,” the teacher’s chosen form of punishment was supposed to help improve her performance. The girl’s father said the school was informed that his daughter was sick and that was the reason she could not complete her assignments.
Firstpost reports that the 12-year-old became ill due to “fear and distress” and refused to go to school. Her father took her to the hospital for an examination which was reported to the police. Thandla police station in-charge SS Baghel acknowledged that a complaint had been received and clarified that, although no injuries had been found during the medical exam, a visit to the school confirmed the attacks had happened.
“We had received a complaint. No injury was found during the medical examination of the girl. Our team also visited the school and found that such an incident had occurred. We are investigating further. However, no formal case has been registered so far.
Principal Sagar further indicated that he would talk to the parents of the girl after being questioned about the slaps, and the district collector of the school has ordered an investigation into the matter.
According to the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti website, the schools select talented, rural children in an attempt to provide them with quality education. There is no indication of how disciplinary problems are handled.
Comments began flooding in after the news was reported, with people calling the incident “barbaric” and “devastating” as well as questioning whether or not the principal should remain in charge of the school.