Two days after eight-year-old Sujit Munda died, complaining of pain from beatings by his teacher at a school near here, the police are investigating whether the class I boy fell victim to corporal punishment. The teacher, Arshad Hussain, 45, has been missing from his home at Balsokra since Sunday.

The police said the autopsy results were expected by Wednesday.

Testimonies of the child’s family and neighbours, and other pupils at the Government Upgraded Middle School at Barhat indicate that Sujit succumbed to injuries sustained after Mr. Hussain beat him with a stick on January 28.

Quoting children in the class, Khilari Deputy Superintendent of Police R.P. Kishore said: “When Sujit and two others could not solve an arithmetic problem, the teacher picked up a wooden stick, used to prepare meals in the school, and hit all the three in the back after asking them to bend down.” Sujit’s younger brother, 6, who was also sitting in the same classroom, said Mr. Hussain told the three children that he would hit them harder if they made any noise,”

Complained of pain

Sujit complained of bodyache on returning home, said his father Mahadeo Munda, adding he bought medicines for him and then took him to a local doctor the next day as the pain had not subsided. Sujit died a little before 6 a.m. on February 2.

Mr. Kishore, who is supervising the investigation, said other families in the village complained that they had brought to the Block Education Officer’s notice Mr. Hussain resorting to corporal punishment but no action was taken.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 prohibits corporal punishment.

“I asked for an enquiry team of three block-level education officers to visit the village and made sure an FIR was registered. We will not let this incident pass and will take action under the RTE Act and the Juvenile Justice Act,” said Sudhir Mishra, member, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.