Interpreting The Incident Of The Mistreatment Of Child In Shantiniketan Hostel

Posted on July 28, 2012 in Society

By Tanima Banerjee:

Man claims himself to be the most evolved species in the planet, with perfectly developed senses and fully evolved sensibilities. He considers himself, unanimously, as far superior to all beings with a perfectly functioning rationale, balanced with emotions. Who would disagree to such claims? We all accept Darwin’s proposition that Man is at the pedestal of all creation, the most perfect creature. Even I thought the same till a certain incident shocked me into coming to terms with a different reality.

The news channels and papers were all flooded with the particular news of a 10 year old girl child, who was forced to drink her urine by the hostel warden in Viswabharati University, Shantiniketan as a punishment for bed wetting. Not only did the news fill me with disgust, it horrified me. I was deeply troubled with the idea of an adult, whose job is to take responsibility for such juveniles, torturing such young children who have come all the way to gain education. One can only imagine the trauma that the child must be subjected to right now. The child now does not want to go to school because of the torturous treatment meted out to her. Such an incident is a blot to humanity. Laws may see it as only a mild form of child abuse, as compared to rape or violent assault, but the mental trauma that such an act can cause is in no way lesser than the higher degrees of child abuse.

What further outrages one here is the fact that the hostel warden, Uma Poddar was granted bail the very day of her arrest, as she booked by the police under bailable charges. She was not booked under the Juvenile Justice Act. No severe actions were taken against the warden for her sadistic punishment to the little girl. Furthermore the university authorities have actually lodged a complaint against the girls’ parents for allegedly attacking the warden. They have been defending the warden’s horrendous act by saying that the girl was only asked to ‘lick’ the wet mattress, and not drink it. They even said that this was a superstitious way of curing the ailment of bedwetting. One does not really know the motivations of the warden behind her “innovative” method of torture and terrorizing a child, but one can say that the gravity of this issue touches some bitter realizations about man.

The barbarity and savagery of the act made me question if man truly is that rational and evolved as he claims. The “animal” in man seems to be pretty much alive, ready to be embraced by him/her any time and wreak havoc. Incidents such as these, and thousand others like rape, sexual abuse, violence, murders etc. make one re-think if man is really any different from any meager animal. Man may have achieved great modern, technological advancements but the existence of basic humanity is missing. Finer sensibilities of love, brotherhood, care, sympathy do not dictate man’s conducts. I am not being a misanthropist here, but a realist. We need to ask ourselves from this point, how evolved are we? How are we any different from animals? Are we any less bestial?