Visva Bharati University expresses regret

The Visva Bharati University today expressed regret for a hostel warden of a school under it forcing a Class V girl student to drink her own urine as punishment for bed-wetting, which had sparked outrage.

"The university univocally regrets the traumatic experience of a Patha Bhavana student Puneeta Singh at the hands of warden Uma Poddar," its Registrar Manimukut Mitra said in a statement.

"Visva Bharati has allowed the girl to be a day-boarder, as an exceptional case," the statement said. Earlier in the day, the registrar issued another statement saying to restore confidence of students and guardians, the university would change the practice of having wardens in hostels.

This was preceded by the girl, her father Manoj Mishra and mother Poonam Singh being summoned by the probe committee of the university to record their statement. The girl's father told reporters later, "We have talked to the four members of the probe committee. They recorded our version. We told whatever we know."

On the offer to take their daughter back as a day scholar, he said "My daughter is still insisting on not returning to Patha Bhavan."

After the university expressed regret, posters in support of Uma Poddar, the hostel warden, appeared in university campus claiming there was a conspiracy to frame her.

Earlier, the Prime Minister's Office had asked for a report from the HRD Ministry about the incident which occurred in the central university whose chancellor is the Prime Minister. The report was submitted on July 10.

The report was learnt to have stated that the mother of the the girl wanted the warden to punish her daughter to get rid of her habit of bed-wetting. West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan had also sought a report from the vice-chancellor.

The warden of Karabi Girls' Hostel, Uma Poddar, was arrested on July eight on a complaint by the girl's father for compelling the student to drink her own urine squeezed from the bedsheet a day earlier.

Poddar was subsequently suspended. The girl's father and mother were also arrested on the charge of trespassing and intimidation on a counter complaint by the university.
The parents, who lived nearby at Mokrampur village, had gone to the hostel on Saturday night, when the incident occurred, and had taken their daughter home.

The university had then claimed that the warden had made the girl lick the bedsheet she had wetted and not forced her to drink her urine. It had also claimed that the girl had wet her bed earlier also and that she was ill.

The parents and the warden had been given bail by a local court on July nine.

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