A private school located at Dum Dum in the northern fringes of the city was witness to unprecedented scenes of protests here on Thursday as hundreds of guardians and outsiders infuriated by the unnatural death of a Class V student laid siege on it, ransacked some rooms, and after several hours, forced the principal to resign. Later, the principal was arrested on charges that include negligence.
The Christ Church High School’s principal Helen Sarkar’s resignation was read out by the police over microphone in a bid to pacify the agitating parents. The police finally dispersed the crowd even as protests continued into the evening.
The police were deployed at the school in large numbers since Thursday morning. The principal and teachers remained inside the school, at times even taking shelter on the floor of a room after switching off the lights.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called the mother of the Class V student, Oindrilla Das, who died at a State-run hospital on Wednesday morning to offer her condolences.
Parents of the ten-year-old student have alleged that senior students had bullied the young girl and had locked her in the school toilet on September 4; an ordeal after which she had fallen sick. This, they said, was the reason for their daughter’s death. Amidst strong police protection earlier in the day, Ms. Sarkar tried to cool tempers by issuing an apology from the school’s balcony.
“With folded hands I seek your forgiveness. Had we come to know of such a situation we would not have allowed it to happen,” she told the guardians.
The State’s School Education Minister Bratya Basu also assured the agitating parents that action would be taken but the protestors did not budge.
A team of the State’s School Education department which was sent to probe the the death of the child was also unable to leave the school premises because of the protests.
The father of the girl, Santanu Das, expressed satisfaction over the principal’s resignation but also demanded that those responsible, including the principal, be punished.
“If those responsible for taking away my girl are punished, we will be able to live in peace. Moreover, action will ensure that such incidents do not recur and precious lives are not lost,” he said.