The Hindu reported how up to 12 students with visual impairments at the Shivasharana Haralaiah Residential School for Blind in India attempted suicide following alleged harassment by the school chairman Ashok Dodmani.
The students claimed they had been beaten with sticks and repeatedly abused verbally by Dodmani, a bling man himself for four years:
“We could not tolerate the torture and decided to end our lives by jumping into an open well. We left the school in the morning in search of a well, as we had heard there was one near Gacchinkatti Colony, but on the way some locals took us back to the school. We don’t want to live here anymore,” said a fourth standard student of the school.
The student went on to note that harassment was virtually a daily affair since he had entered the school four years ago:
“Dodmani sir beats us, often makes us stand under direct sunlight as punishment for silly reasons”
Another student claimed that Dodmani sold back to them items such as soap that had been donated by philanthropists to the students:
“Our parents give us some pocket money, and we are often forced to use it to buy soaps from Dodmani sir for Rs. 5 and Rs. 10. He is supposed to give them to us for free as they donated to the school by philanthropists.”
The students stated that they would remain in the school only if Dodmani was fired.
Dodmani admitted that he had resorted to punishing some students, but claimed he had done it for their own good: “I punish them, but not with bad intentions”.
Replying to questions about mismanagement of funds, Dodmani, though did not give much information or report any wrong doing.
Speaking to The Hindu , District Disabled Welfare Officer Upadhaya, away on official duty said he will be taking action to protect the students upon his return.