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Changing Narratives - by Ali Haider

Nearly two weeks ago, I came to know that a female teacher in a private school, not too far from my home, had hit one of her student’s eye with a pen and that the poor boy had, as a result, lost vision in one eye. Sentences like “An angel fallen victim to a merciless, so called, teacher” and “Mahir nishaany baaz aurat nai apne hi talib e ilm ki aankh zaya kardi” made rounds in the WatsApp messages of nearly all the mobile phones in Skardu. Like everyone else, the story up to this point saddened me as well and also I must admit that I was enraged at the brutality of the incident. How could a teacher be this much stone hearted and hit their student in such a manner? However, like every other heart wrenching story, this story after being circulated on WatsApp for nearly a whole week and passionately discussed got somewhat forgotten or it could also be said that people lost interest in it. Needless to say, my brain put this story and all the things related to it in the non-trending portion of my life as well.

After a whole week, another WatsApp message appeared. This time with a wholly different perspective. The message contained the tragic story of the teacher after the incident. The boy’s father had immediately filed a police complaint against the teacher and consequently, she had been jailed. Given the severity of the issue (the child having lost his sight in one eye after being deliberately hit by the teacher), the police complaint and jailing of the teacher seemed somewhat justifiable. However, things turned out to be a lot different. The teacher had been 7 months pregnant. It turned out that the teacher had been checking the notebooks of her students just before the incident and had mistakenly (not sure how) hit the student’s eye with the pen as she was already carrying it in her hand. Moreover, the child’s eye had recovered to a great extent. On the other side, the 7 months pregnant teacher had been kept behind the bars for a whole week weeping and begging the police to let her donate her eye for the student. It shakes my soul and my whole being to imagine the teacher’s ordeal while being jailed for a whole week, pregnant and having to spend the chilling nights of Skardu in that condition in the jail.

The message also said that the teacher had been now, after a week, freed “on health grounds” and that now she is at her home, traumatized. She had also paid a visit to the student’s home in order to check his condition and most probably to seek forgiveness from his parents as well. However, I have heard that the child’s father is still demanding 20 lac from the teacher for the damage that has been caused to the child’s eye. It appears that his eye has not recovered completely. If the teacher’s family does not pay him the amount, he is determined to seek justice from the court.

By sharing this true story, I wanted to highlight some ugly aspects of our legal system and broadly our whole society, which forms its narrative without even making the slightest effort to know the matter in an authentic manner. Needless to say, I am also a part of this society. However, I think I should stop here and let you think on your own.

However, I cannot stop myself from mentioning that what I found the most disgusting was the term “on health grounds” being used by the police after keeping her behind the bars for a whole week. Just imagine for a moment if instead of this teacher, who belongs to a lower middle class family and does not have powerful connections, it had been someone belonging to a socioeconomically powerful family with powerful connections. Would then the teacher still be kept in jail while being pregnant for a whole week?

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