The Kerala Police on Friday beat activists from the Students’ Federation of India with batons during a protest against the death of 10-year-old Shehla Sherin from snakebite in a government school in Wayanad district two days back, Mathrubhumi reported. The federation is affiliated to the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The clashes reportedly broke out after the students entered the premises of the Wayanad collectorate. The police charged them with batons in order to evict them.

The Democratic Youth Federation of India had held protests in Wayanad earlier in the day, Mathrubhumi reported.

The incident occurred at the Government Sarvajan School, where students said they had seen the snake that bit Sherin in the school compound, Manorama reported. However, when the students informed their teachers about the snake they were reportedly beaten up. The school administration allegedly did not take Sherin to hospital despite the students’ pleas.

Following Sherin’s death, the district collectors of Pathanamthitta, Wayanad and Idukki ordered the education department to clean all school premises and make them reptile-free. Pathanamthitta Collector PB Nooh has asked the deputy director of education to submit a school inspection report by Monday. Inspections are already being conducted in Idukki district.

Wayanad District Judge A Harris, along with two other judges, visited the Government Sarvajan School on Friday. He asked school authorities to fill all holes in the premises. “The school authorities should ensure students’ safety,” he said.

Human rights commission orders inquiry

Meanwhile, the Kerala State Human Rights Commission has ordered an inquiry into the incident, The News Minute reported.

P Mohandas, the judicial member of the rights panel, has directed the Wayanad district collector, district police and deputy director of education to submit a report within 15 days. The commission issued the order after human rights activist Veerendhra Kumar, and Lok Thanthrik Youth Janathathal’s Wayanad President UA Ajmal Sajith filed a petition.

The incident

The state deputy director of education on Thursday suspended Shijil, the teacher who allegedly refused to take Sherin to hospital despite the pleas of students and a colleague.

The school’s headmaster claimed the girl was taken to a nearby hospital around 4.09 pm. She began to vomit around 4.50 pm, after which doctors referred her to the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital almost two-and-a-half hours away.

“Enroute, she felt uneasy and was taken to the Vythiri Taluk hospital, where doctors advised us to take her to another hospital nearby, but she died on the way,” the headmaster said.

Meanwhile, the Congress MP from Wayanad, Rahul Gandhi, wrote to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, pointing out that a “promising life was tragically cut short at a place of learning”. “The absence of a conducive learning environment demoralises students and parents alike,” Gandhi wrote on Thursday. “Given that the state of Kerala has been a pioneer in establishing quality public schools, I request the state government and the general education department to conduct an infrastructure audit of public schools in Wayanad parliamentary constituency.”