Bengal ragging death: School restoration soon

Kolkata, Sep 23 : Restoration of the school vandalised by irate parents and local people after the Sep 11 death of a minor girl allegedly after being ragged by seniors will begin soon, an official of the Church of North India said Monday.

The Christ Church School, in which Oindrila Das, a Class 5 student, was allegedly ragged brutally at Dum Dum in North 24-Parganas district, is run by the church.

Oindrila died a week after she was allegedly locked up inside the school toilet by senior students who demanded money from her.

A day after her death, hundreds of people -- mostly parents and guardians -- ransacked the 131-year-old school, and forced principal Helen Sircar to resign.

Hours later, Sircar was arrested and had to spend three days in police custody.

Over a dozen people have been arrested so far for the vandalism that resulted in the loss of valuable documents and certificates pertaining to board exams of Class 10 and 12 students of the school, affiliated to the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education.

The school has been closed since then.

"The managing committee of the school has assessed the damage, and restoration of its infrastructure will begin in a day or two. The committee formed by the West Bengal Association of Christian Schools (WBACS) is looking into it and a team will be there anytime," Abir Adhikari of the Calcutta Diocese of the Church of North India told IANS.

An independent inquiry committee (as well as a monitoring panel) was instituted to look into all the allegations in the matter. The probe will also decide when the school would re-open and whether Sircar (who had accused the police of inaction while people ransacked the school) would be reinstated as principal.

"Probe is on... we can't say anything about it at the moment," said Adhikari.

The protest march that the Calcutta Diocese of the Church of North India had earlier announced it would hold Sep 26 has been put off.

"It has been withdrawn... postponed," Adhikari said.

The West Bengal Human Rights Commission expressed "serious concern" over the events and directed the state home secretary to order a probe.

"The investigation will probe the death of the student, vandalism of the school by guardians and outsiders, police inaction and the principal's arrest," said a WBHRC official.

A five-member delegation of the Calcutta Diocese of the Church of North India Sep 19 met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee while around 1,000 Christian schools in the state were shut to protest the ransacking and police inaction during the vandalism.

The delegation sought protection of minority-run institutions in the state.

--IANS (Posted on 23-09-2013)

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