Conversion bid caused death of Class IX student in Tripura school: Report

Last Updated: Saturday, 19 October 2019 (18:05 IST)
Agartala: government has decided to order a judicial enquiry into the death of Happy Debbarma (17), class IX student of Holy cross school at Kumarghat of Unokoti district in North Tripura two weeks ago.
Happy was died due to internal injury following a brutal attack on him by the hostel superintendent. However, police had arrested their fathers of the school and the main accused hostel superintendent Bulchung Halam based on the complaint of the victim's mother.
 
The court released two fathers identified as Joe Paul and Father Alfred on bail yesterday while Bulchung and Father Nancy D'Souza was sent to judicial custody for their direct involvement in the crime, police said here today.
 
Official sources here stated that chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb took a serious note after hearing the background of the incident from an administrative report, which indicated a gloomy situation in the school where forceful into has been a regular phenomenon. The matter was also discussed in the last meeting of the council of ministers and decided to refer the incident to judicial enquiry.
 
According to the report, last, a teenaged tribal girl student had committed suicide in the hostel following pressure from the warden and fathers of the school to convert her and the entire family into Christianity. Allegedly, the missionary schools in the tribal-dominated rural areas have been indulging conversion into Christianity in the name of convent style education taking advantage of poverty and the absence of English medium schools.
 
The officials stated that the deceased Happy Debbaram has been opposing several conversion attempts of poor students and thereby the hostel superintendent Bulchung Halam for last few months. But when it came to Happy's turn to become Christian, he revolted on Sept 25 last. In the afternoon, Bulchung summoned Happy Debbarma in an isolated corner outside the hostel, which was not covered under CC camera.
 
"Bulchung punched Happy severely on his chest accusing him of opposition in conversion. When Happy was fallen, Bulchung stood on him and thrashed him brutally. The torture on Happy was reportedly known to the in-charge of the school Father Nancy D'Souza and when he saw Bulchung had gone violent D'Souza along with two other accused rescued him. He was given primary treatment and warned him not to disclose it to others," the report stated.
 
On the next day, to manage the situation they had forced Happy to write his last exam in the school. 
 
An in the afternoon he was handed over to his mother for vacation. After reaching home Happy was found suffering from severe chest pain and high fever and immediately, the parents took him to a private doctor on Sept 29 last. But after three days with no improvement he was admitted to Manu hospital from he was referred to Dhalai district hospital, the report mentioned.
 
Instead of taking Happy in the district hospital, the parents brought him to Agartala Govt Medical College where doctors attending him found serious internal damage in his respiratory system, heart and lung and his condition deteriorated very fast in the hospital. At final stage of his life, Happy had disclosed the whole incident perpetrated on him and how others in the school hostel have been torturing by the Fathers and hostel Warden non-academic issues to his mother on the condition if he survived they should not send him to the hostel again, the reported said quoting the victim's mother. 
 
The victim's mother Rajmala Debbarma, an ICDS worker also stated to police that Happy used to protest against the warden for telling lie to the Father and Principal of the Holy Cross School several times about the students who did not accept his undue demands and proposals. The suicide of the girl student last year was also due to pressure on her for religious conversion.
 
"The death of Happy Debbarma raised many questions about the functioning of the private convent schools especially missionary run institutions. Last year, one Lahari Debbarma of Auxiillum School here had committed suicide after she was being ill-treated by the sisters branding her thief as alleged by a shopping mall. The CID investigation was ordered by the state government but nothing has come out yet," said a senior officer in the state administration.
 
However, education minister Ratan Lal Nath said, "There are series of allegations against private schools and we are going develop a regulatory mechanism to handle them. Also, the government has taken some stringent measures to ensure the safety and security of the students in the schools."(UNI)