Kolkata(HS): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said that the incident of sexual harassment of a child in the GD Birla School of Ranikuthi in Kolkata is unfortunate. She issued this statement from Nabanna, where the Chief Minister’s Office is located. Banerjee said that every teacher cannot be blamed for the incident. “All teachers are not bad,” she said.
Some sleuths of Kolkata Police visited the school and focussed particularly on its junior sections on Monday. They examined the washrooms in the school as well. The case had been taken up just a day before by the investigative wing of Lalbazar, the Kolkata Police headquarters.
Two accused, both teachers, were produced before the Alipore court on Monday. They had been brought to the court on Saturday, too. They have been in police custody ever since. The police say their statements are mutually inconsistent. The police went to the court on Monday with the plea that the custody of the teachers be extended so that the true version of the incident could be extracted with them. The Sixth Additional District Court judge allowed the police to keep the accused in their custody till 15 December.
The court has instructed the police to hear the victim out at a POCSO court, following a plea to that effect by the public prosecutor. POCSO stands for the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
The city of Kolkata and the rest of Bengal have erupted in protest. A huge crowd of parents surrounded the school and staged demonstrations in front of its gate. A large part of south Kolkata came to a standstill due to the protests. Police have been deployed before the school compound.
Lawyer Ramaprasad Sarkar filed a public interest litigation (PIL) at the Calcutta High Court on Monday in connection with the incident. The PIL has been accepted.
On the basis of a complaint filed by the victim’s father, several cases under POCSO have been filed against the school’s principal Sharmistha Nath. She is likely to be summoned to Lalbazar soon, say sources.
Nath also faces cases under the Sections 201 and 120 B, which deal with the charge of tampering with evidence and hatching criminal conspiracy.
The school management has, however, mellowed down its stand. They will, sources say, convene a meeting for a comprehensive dialogue with parents on Tuesday to address the issue. Sources in the police told Hindusthan Samachar that some senior police officials would attend the meet.
Lalbazar is trying to know, sources said, from the accused the sequence of happenings of the ill-fated day, and whether anybody other than them in the school had come to know of the incident that day. The police headquarters have appealed to the court to record the statement of the victim and her parents. The victim’s clothes worn on the day of the incident are already in police custody for forensic examination.
Hindusthan Samachar/Surajit Dasgupta