Helpline chairperson wants Centre to step up counselling

Suicides by two students of Jawahar Navodaya Vidhyalayas — schools for gifted children — in Garhwal region within a span of three days has shocked parents and citizens, who have sought a critical assessment of child welfare measures in these prestigious institutions.

Students found Sachin Butola, a class XI student in Jawahar Navodaya Vidhyalaya, Pipalkoti, Chamoli district, hanging from the grill of the toilet on Monday. According to a suicide note, Sachin, a meritorious student, allegedly committed suicide as he was unsatisfied with his academic performance. “He had actively participated in the Republic Day function on Saturday, and also talked to his father on phone on Sunday and none of us could have ever expected such a drastic step from him,” said Principal Mohar Singh.

Kaajal, a class IX student of Jawahar Navodaya Vidhyalaya, Pokhal, Tehri district, was found hanging in the toilet on Saturday afternoon. The suicide note stated that Kaajal had ended her life due to harassment by some students. Residents of the area have sought the arrest of the principal and the warden.

Expressing concern over the suicides, Renu D. Singh, chairperson of the Samadhan helpline, wanted the Centre to immediately step up child welfare and counselling activities in the Jawahar Navodaya Vidhyalayas. The government, Ms. Singh demanded, should also order a forensic examination into the suicide notes left behind by both the students to ascertain that they were genuine.

Ms. Singh also wanted the revamping of the Uttarakhand State Council for Child Welfare and the District Child Welfare Councils as these bodies seemed to have failed to ensure quality living conditions in the Jawahar Navodaya Vidhyalayas.