Tempers flare over student’s death in Williamnagar, Principal forced to seek refuge in police station

TURA, Sept 21: The shocking death of a young teenage boy from the prestigious Loyola School of Williamnagar in a tragic accident that involved carrying logs of timber on Tuesday morning has raised tempers among concerned parents over the decision of the school authorities to compel students to do menial labour that caused a bright young child to lose his life.

With tempers flaring and angry citizens of the town baying for justice, the headmaster of the Jesuit missionaries run education institution, Father Melwyn Fernandes was compelled to seek refuge inside the Williamnagar police station for safety on Tuesday night.

A magisterial investigation has been announced by East Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner Swapnil Tembe into the circumstances leading to the death of the young boy.

The Class IX student of Loyola school, Master Cherian Bemik M Sangma, was part of a group of his classmates who had answered the call of the school headmaster to help in removal of six timber logs lying on the school ground, on that fateful morning.

The boys in batches of four to six were engaged in pushing the logs off the field into a nearby slope when the tragedy unfolded at around 10:30 in the morning.

“Though most of the boys engaged in the work were pushing the logs off the ground, a group of five boys, that included Cherian on one side, lifted the log with the intention of throwing it off the field.  In the process of shifting the logs, the boys carried it and lost coordination while throwing it, resulting in the log falling on Cherian who was lifting it alone on the other side,” informed Loyola fathers while narrating the sequence of events that befall them and their students on Tuesday morning.

Though the injured young boy was rushed by the headmaster Father Melwyn Fernandes to Williamnagar Civil Hospital, the child was declared brought dead.

The incident cast a gloom over the entire school, particularly among its students and parents and angers flared demanding justice.

The civil hospital was mobbed with people and authorities had to confine the school headmaster and other Jesuit priests into a room in the hospital to prevent any untoward incidents.

Questions have been raised by many about the decision of the school authorities to engage the students in menial labour, particularly work involving a threat to their lives in such work.

“It happened so fast we never expected such an incident to happen. I myself had taken the class IX and requested if any students would help and they all volunteered. Things happened so quickly we had no idea what had occurred initially. I myself lifted the boy and rushed him to the hospital but it was so shocking and tragic,” said Headmaster Fr Melwyn Fernandes while speaking to The Shillong Times on Tuesday night.

In view of the threat of possible violence, the school headmaster has been kept back in the Williamnagar police station to spend the night.

GSU demands removal of Headmaster

Shocked by the incident in which a young life was snuffed out for no fault of his, the Garo Students’ Union of Eastern Zone, headquartered Williamnagar has strongly condemned the tragic incident at Loyola School and blamed the school authorities for enforcing hard labour by way of carrying logs which led to the accident.

The student union, while condemning the incident, had demanded for the removal of Father Melwyn Fernandes from the Principal’s post and sought for an appropriate legal action against him for “his incautious and negligence deed that caused the loss of precious life of a student.”

The students union has also announced that they will be holding a candle light service on 22nd September’21 in front of the Williamnagar DC office at 5:30 pm to show solidarity and in condolence of young Cherian M Sangma who died in that accident.

An appeal has been made to all the schools from within and near the Williamnagar town to remain closed on 22nd September’21 to uphold prayer and solidarity with the bereaved family.

Magisterial probe ordered into child’s death

The East Garo Hills Deputy commissioner Swapnil Tembe has ordered a magisterial probe into the death of 14 year old Cherian Bimik M Sangma who died while lifting timber logs in a school field at Loyola school premises in Dawagre Williamnagar on Tuesday.

“A magisterial probe has been ordered to ascertain the circumstances leading to the death of the child. The investigation will be done by senior additional magistrate A Marak,” confirmed Deputy commissioner Swapnil Tembe while speaking to the Shillong Times  on Tuesday night.

The remains of the young boy, who used to reside at Williamnagar Medical Colony, was taken for the last rites to his home town in Rongjeng after completion of the post mortem the same evening.

Loyola expresses shock over death of its student

Meanwhile, The Jesuit missionaries run Loyola School in Williamnagar, where young Cherian Bimik M Sangma was an outstanding student doing his class IX studies when tragedy struck, has expressed shock over the death of his sudden untimely death.

In a press statement issued by the school authorities, it mentioned that the incident occurred approximately 10.30 Tuesday morning.

‘The class IX students were requested to roll a few logs of wood that were in a plot of land that was about to be levelled. In the process of shifting the logs, a group of boys decided to carry a log instead of rolling it. The group consisting of five boys, four on one side and one on the other, lost coordination while throwing it, resulting in the log falling on Cherian Bimik M. Sangma, who was lifting it alone on the other side. The log knocked him to the ground leading to severe injury.

“Seeing the blood oozing out from his nose and mouth, Fr Melwyn Fernandes, the Principal of the School, rushed the student to the hospital immediately. When the student reached the hospital, he was declared dead on arrival. The management, staff and students are deeply shocked and anguished by this tragedy. The loss of a precious life caused by this accident is extremely

painful. Master Cherian Bimik M. Sangma was a bright and talented student. No words will suffice to console the family who have lost a dear one. He will be greatly missed by one and all,” a statement by the Management of Loyola School, Dawagre, Williamnagar mentioned.

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