The tragic death of seven young girls in a stampede in a secondary government school is a tragedy that no words can describe adequately. Like thousands of children across the city, these girls went to school to sit for their second term exams. It was a rainy day and classes were flooded. A simple rumour triggered a stampede in the sole narrow staircase of a building that housed over 2000 children at a time. The result: seven lives were lost and many children were seriously injured.
A multitude of deafening whys scream for answers and yet one knows that few if any will be answered. The usual and sated response mechanism has been set in motion: endless and useless enquiry commissions and monetary compensation for the dead and injured. Enough is enough. The children of India have the right to demand that things be set right once for all and that ALL the children of India be treated in the same way, notwithstanding their social origin. They are fed up of being treated as second class citizens and demand their place in the sun. The society of schools should be made equitable. It is time that slogans like education for all be taken seriously. Band aid solutions are not enough. Every school in the country should be a centre of excellence, a place where children can learn and remain safe. What goes by the name of schools is nothing but an aberration! Dilapidated buildings with no basic amenities are not acceptable.
I wonder who designed the building of the school where this terrible terrible tragedy occurred? How can over 2000 children be housed in a building which has only one narrow staircase? How long will be keep silent spectators and allow this to continue? How many more young lives will have to be sacrificed before we open our eyes and dare to look and perhaps see? Reality stares us in the face and we simply look away.
Tomorrow or perhaps the day after, this tragedy will be forgotten. Some cosmetic action will be taken in the hope of assuaging matters and life will resume its course. That is sadly the harsh reality.