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Hair split over torture taint
- Conflicting reports of child injury

The preliminary medical report submitted to the sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) on Thursday may bail out Ruma Pal, art teacher of Our Lady Queen of the Mission School Salt Lake, who allegedly punished a five-year-old student by yanking out a tuft of hair.

The medical examination was carried out on Thursday morning by the Bidhannagar sub-divisional hospital.

SDPO Kanad Mukherjee told Metro: 'The report I have received states that there are no marks of any external injury or bruises on the head of the affected student, Varnika Gupta, and that there was no pain in the area.'

He added that 'the exact cause of hair loss was not mentioned in the report'.

Ruma Pal's brother, Ashish Ghosh, said on Thursday night that this only 'corroborated' what his sister had been saying so far. 'My sister has told us that she pulled the girl's ear but did not yank out her hair,' he said. 'There is no truth to what the girl's family has been alleging.' Pal was arrested on Wednesday night but released shortly thereafter.

However, the Gupta family physician, as well as doctors at SSKM Hospital, who examined the girl on Thursday evening, said there was every indication of the child having been injured in the process of hair being pulled out of her head.

Family physician P.P. Gupta, who treated Varnika initially, said there were 'definite marks of injury on her head when I examined her on Wednesday. The hair was definitely pulled out. The hair was probably weak there and so the strands came off easily'.

Gupta said he had treated the bruises immediately with ointment and other medicines, 'which is probably why they did not show up during the examination at the Bidhannagar hospital on Thursday morning'.

Shantanu Tripathi, superintendent of SSKM Hospital, said: 'Emergency medical officers examined Varnika and found that the possibility of hair having been pulled out of her head definitely existed.'

Varnika's parents alleged in a police complaint on Wednesday that the girl was mercilessly beaten by Pal because she forgot to put her art-and-craft work in a plastic bag.

'Preliminary findings show that the allegations brought against Ruma Pal are not true,' Smita Thomas, principal of the school, said on Thursday.

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