Bengal school ragging: Principal resigns, arrested after protests

Angry protestors – mostly guardians – laid siege of a West Bengal school on Thursday forcing the authorities to arrest its principal who also resigned for the death of a minor girl student after being ragged.

Angry protestors – mostly guardians – laid siege of a West Bengal school on Thursday forcing the authorities to arrest its principal who also resigned for the death of a minor girl student after being ragged.

After day-long mob frenzy, which saw the protestors ransacking the school and breaking its furniture demanding arrest of the principal Helen Sarkar and her resignation, she was taken into custody at night by police for failing to discharge her duties.

Oindrila Das, 10, a Class 5 student of Christ Church School in Dum Dum on Kolkata’s northern outskirts, died Wednesday a week after she was allegedly locked up inside the school toilet by some of her seniors who demanded money from her.

“She has been arrested as her name figures in the FIR where it has been alleged that negligence on her part led to the student’s death. Some of the charges are non-bailable,” said Barrackpore Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detective Department) Debasish Bej told media persons.

The Mamata Banerjee government derided the “hooliganism” but assured strict action against all those responsible for the girl’s death, which, her parents claimed, was due to trauma and shock following the ragging.

With the agitation streching late into the evening warranting heavy police deployment, Sarkar not only apologised publicly with folded hands for the incident and assured strict action, but later tendered her resignation which was read out by police.

“I take full responsibility and hereby tender my resignation as the school principal,” said a police officer reading out Sarkar’s resignation on the microphone. But the move failed to pacify the protestors as “the resignation was written on a plain paper which has no value”.

“Does she think we are fools? We will not deter unless she tenders her resignation formally on the school’s official letterhead and sends to the authorities concerned,” said a protestor.

Police had a torrid time controlling the protestors and their repeated pleas to calm down failed to have any impact.

The siege was later lifted after Sarkar formally put down her papers.

Meanwhile, Banerjee called up the bereaved family assuring action.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights also took up the matter and asked the state government to initiate a probe.

“The chief minister today called up Oindrila’s mother and expressed shock and grief over the girl’s death, and assured proper action,” the victim’s uncle Alokesh Das said.

State Education Minister Bratya Basu later visited the family and promised strict action against the guilty.

“We have already ordered a probe. All those involved in this will be strongly dealt with. But this hooliganism which is going on in the school is completely unacceptable. This should be stopped immediately,” said Basu.

School authorities maintained Oindrila did not inform them about being locked up, but her parents rubbished it. A school teacher Kajari Pal said the minor had tried to inform her about the incident.

“She was trying to tell me that something wrong had happened with her, but could not explain properly. So I asked her to bring her parents. But unfortunately she fell ill and eventually died,” said Pal.

Yet to come to term with their loss, Oindrila’s parents demanded punishment for those involved.

“If those responsible for taking away my girl are punished, we’ll be able to live in peace. Moreover, action will ensure such incident do not recur and a precious life is not lost,” said Santanu, the girl’s father who expressed his happiness over the principal’s resignation.

“There were several complaints against her (principal) and I am relieved that she has quit,” he added.

The family is also contemplating legal action against a city based private nursing home where Oindrila was admitted before her death, for alleged medical negligence.


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