The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Exam fear drives girl to suicide

March 3: Twelve hours before the first bell of the Madhyamik examinations, a student set herself on fire fearing failure in Burdwan’s Memari.

Bela Banerjee’s father told officials at the Memari police station his daughter was suffering from a fear psychosis for the past few days. The police had no doubts that “this fear” drove her to suicide.

Last evening, when no one was home, Bela poured kerosene on herself and set it alight. Neighbours who spotted smoke bellowing from a window of her house rushed in to find her on fire. Bela was taken to the local healthcentre, where she was pronounced dead.

The president of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, Dibyendu Hota, said the first day of Madhyamik was by and large peaceful throughout the state. There were no reports of untoward incidents from any of the 899 examination centres.

Other school-leaving examinations — the ICSE, ISC and the Class X and XII examinations of the CBSE — that began today passed off without complaints as well.

Hota regretted that despite requests to the state and city police authorities, most photocopy shops near the test centres remained open today. The board had urged the police to keep them shut during the examination hours.

“We will approach the higher authorities in the school education department as well as the police to ensure that the xerox shops are kept closed at least on the days of major exams like mathematics and English,” said Hota.

Inspector-general of police (law and order) Chayan Mukherjee said at Writers’ Buildings they were unable to keep the shops shut during the examination hours because there was no such rule to ask the shop-owners to keep shutters down on such a ground.

He added that the exams are held between 12 noon and 3 pm, which comprise peak business hours, and it would be difficult to push the shops to closure.

Mukherjee said it was the duty of the board to make suitable arrangements to prevent question leaks.

All the police stations have been asked to maintain proper vigil near the examination centres on the days the major examinations, he added.

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