In a dramatic turn of events, over 300 students and alumni from a government higher secondary school in Tamil Nadu staged a protest, blocking the Siruvani - Perur road for an hour on Thursday according to The New Indian Express reports.
Students Rally Against Physical Education Teacher's Arrest
The demonstration was in response to the arrest of a Physical Education Teacher (PET) under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act. The students, ranging from classes 6 to 12, passionately demanded the withdrawal of charges, asserting the innocence of their teacher.
Traffic came to a standstill, causing a major jam as the students voiced their discontent. Tensions escalated briefly when additional police forces arrived to disperse the crowd, urging them to clear the road. However, the situation was diffused when authorities gathered the students in an open auditorium, providing an explanation about the teacher's arrest under the Pocso Act. Following this intervention, the students ended their two-hour-long protest and returned to their classes.
Allegations of Teacher Instigation
Amidst the turmoil, anonymous allegations surfaced, suggesting that a group of teachers may have influenced the students to protest. One teacher, speaking on condition of anonymity, hinted at internal strife among the teaching staff, stating, "The arrest of the PET has not gone down well with a group of teachers. So, they have instigated the students who are unaware of the Pocso case for protest."
A concerned parent, K Perumal, expressed worry about the impact on education, stating, "Due to ego issues among the teachers, who have been working for more than 10 years, students are being misled, affecting their education." The District Educational Officer, S Jaishankar, visited the school for an inquiry but declined to comment on allegations of teacher instigation.
In response to the controversy, Collector Kranthi Kumar Pati assured that an investigation would be launched into the issue. Additionally, the district police plan to write to the chief educational officer, urging a departmental inquiry into the alleged instigation of students. They are also considering invoking provisions of the Pocso Act against staff who fail to report incidents of abuse, based on information that the victim's complaints had been ignored by the school administration earlier in the year.