Bengal ragging death: School to reopen Friday

Kolkata, Sep 26 : A fortnight after the closure of a school at which a ragging incident led to the death of a Class 5 student, an official of the Church of North India that runs the institution said classes would resume Friday.

"Classes will commence Friday onwards. Teachers and church officials are there today (Thursday). Restoration is in progress," Abir Adhikari of the Calcutta Diocese of the Church of North India told IANS.

Parents and guardians protesting the death of Oindrila Das, a Class 5 student, had vandalised the school premises a fortnight ago. The girl allegedly died of trauma she suffered when she was locked up in a school toilet by senior students who demanded money.

The Christ Church School in Dum Dum in North 24 Parganas district, on the outskirts of the state capital, which Oindrila attended, had been shut since Sep 12, a day after Oindrila's death. The girl died a week after she was allegedly ragged.

Hours after the school was vandalised Sep 12, principal Helen Sircar was arrested. She spent 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.

Restoration work in the school began Sep 24.

"Restoration will go on in full swing during the weekends, when the school is shut. On working days, after the school gives over, the work will continue," Adhikari said.

An independent inquiry committee (as well as a monitoring panel) was instituted by the West Bengal Association of Christian Schools (WBACS) to look into all the allegations in the matter.

The probe will also decide whether Sircar (who had accused the police of inaction while people ransacked the school) would be reinstated as principal.

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

Around 1,000 Christian schools in the state were shut Sep 19 to protest the ransacking and alleged police inaction during the vandalism.

A delegation of church officials also met Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, seeking protection for minority-run institutions in the state.

--IANS (Posted on 26-09-2013)

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