Students lathi-charged in Kerala during protest over girl’s death by snakebite

Shehal Sherin, snakebite
Shehal Sherin, a fifth standard student of a government school, died after being bitten by a snake inside her classroom on Wednesday (File Photo)

Widespread protests turned violent in Kerala’s Wayanad district as the students wing of the ruling Left and the police clashed on Friday (November 22), two days after a 10-year-old girl died after being bitten by a snake.

The police resorted to lathi charge after Students’ Federation of India (SFI) members violated a barricade and entered the civil station in Wayanad and also attempted to enter the district Collector’s office, reported NDTV.

Shehal Sherin, a fifth standard student of a government school, died after being bitten by a snake inside her classroom on Wednesday. The students of the school too took out a protest march on Friday demanding stern action against their teachers over Sherin’s death.

Raising slogans and holding placards, the students in their uniforms, took out the march through Sulthan Bathery town and converged in front of the government vocational higher secondary school in Wayanad district.

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“We want justice for Shehala. Stern action should be taken against the Parents Teachers Association (PTA), the teachers who refused to rush the student to hospital and the doctors who refused to treat her,” a student said.

A boy student, with a plastic snake wrapped around his neck, said there is not even a first aid box in the school where there are snakes slithering everywhere on the playground and in classrooms. There are snake pits in many places in the school compound, he said. Basic facilities like clean toilets are not available at the vocational higher secondary school, some others said.

Meanwhile, Wayanad District Sessions Judge A Harris visited the school on Friday morning and saw the sorry state of the school and its premises and said it was unfortunate. “We are taking the situation seriously,” he told reporters.

District Child Welfare Committee (CWC) President K Aravindakshan said based on newspaper reports CWC had on their own registered a case. A detailed report has been sought from the Deputy Director of the Education department and District Medical Officer on the lapses on the part of school and hospitals, where the child was taken.

Kerala Human Rights Commission and Child Rights Protection Commission have also registered separate cases. The government has already suspended a casualty medical officer of the Bathery taluk hospital for not administering anti-venom to the child. After a preliminary probe, a teacher, Shijil, was also suspended for alleged lapse.

Sherin was taken to hospital over an hour after the incident at around 3 pm on Wednesday, her fellow students had alleged. Though her parents rushed her to four hospitals where no anti-venom was administered and they were told to take the child to the Kozhikode Medical College hospital, which is about 90 km from Sulthan Bathery.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the incident was unfortunate and assured strong action against those responsible for the lapse in saving the child’s life. Strong action will be taken against those responsible for any lapses in their duty, he added.

Congress leader and Wayanad MP, Rahul Gandhi wrote to Vijayan, saying the school’s “crumbling infrastructure” needed urgent attention of the state government.

(With inputs from agencies)

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