G D Birla School to shut indefinitely over sexual assault of girl child

G D Birla School to shut indefinitely over sexual assault of girl child

The management of G D Birla Centre for Education has decided to indefinitely suspend all academic activities of the school, inconveniencing students.

A four-year-old girl student of the school was allegedly sexually assaulted by two teachers of the physical education department in the junior section on Thursday last.

Both teachers have been arrested and charged under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

When the allegation surfaced, a section of angry parents had demanded that the school be shut till safety and security of the students are ensured. The closure notice, citing security concerns of teachers and school authorities, followed soon.

The authorities, however, informed on Monday that a meeting will be held on Tuesday at around noon among the police, the school authorities and a section of  parents  to end the impasse.

"A tripartite meeting will be held tomorrow in the school premises, which is basically an initiative by the police. We have already sent letters to all guardians expressing our regret about whatever has happened. We hope sanity prevails and a positive outcome is reached in tomorrow's meeting," said Subhas Mohanty, spokesperson of the school.

West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) chairperson Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti reached the school Monday morning along with WBCPCR member Soumitra Roy and said that the school authorities cannot arbitrarily shut down the school under the Right to Education Act.

"Legal steps should be taken against the school if suddenly closed. The school authorities had assured the guardians that steps have been taken to ensure security of all students, but has miserably failed," said Ananya.

The parents of the victim have also lodged a complaint against Sharmila Nath, the principal of the school's junior section, following which the police have registered a case against her.

Case against principal  

"We have received a complaint from the father of the girl and have started a case against the principal. The Detective Department has taken over the probe from the local police station. Senior officers of the women's grievance cell are conducting a thorough probe," said Kolkata Police Joint Commissioner (Crime) Vishal Garg.

Meanwhile, a city court on Monday extended the police custody of the two accused PT teachers - Abhishek Roy and Mohd Mafizuddin, till December 15. The court has also allowed the police's prayer to record the girl's statement in front of a magistrate and to conduct medico-legal tests on her.

BJP Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly went to the school on Monday, but faced stiff resistance from the guardians. They raised "Go Back" slogans against her and insisted   that their agitation was apolitical and was only aimed at ensuring safety and security of their children inside the school.

Similar incident  

BJP workers and a section of guardians also blocked the key James Long Sarani in south Kolkata in front of M P Birla Foundation High School for over six hours, where a lower nursery girl student was allegedly sexually assaulted by a non-teaching staff of the school earlier this year.

Though the parents of the girl had lodged an FIR with Behala police station, they alleged that no action was taken against the accused and they had to transfer the child from the school.

Reacting strongly to the G D Birla school incident, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, "The government is closely monitoring the case."

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