|People gather in front of Children’s Academy to protest the alleged molestation and (above) the office of rector B.N. Das. Pictures by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
The owner and rector of a primary school in Garia killed himself on Tuesday morning following allegations that he had molested a Class II student.
The girl’s mother had alleged that she had seen B.N. Das, 62, molest her daughter in his office after school on Monday.
“I saw him holding my daughter tightly and molesting her. She was shivering in fear. As soon as Das saw me, he let go of my daughter and told me that he was only caressing her,” the mother told Metro.
Das lived with his wife, one of his two sons and daughter-in-law on the first floor of a building at 21 Boral Main Road, the ground floor of which houses his school, Children’s Academy. His other son and daughter, both married, live separately.
After he was declared dead — he hanged himself in his room upstairs — around 1,000 guardians and local residents blocked the road in front of the academy to protest the molestation. They tried to prevent the family members from removing the body.
Praveen Kumar, the superintendent of South 24-Parganas police, said: “No suicide note was found. Das’s family members lodged a complaint blaming some of their neighbours for his death. The child’s family has verbally lodged a complaint. We are investigating the allegations of both sides.”
Sadhana Saha, Das’s daughter, said: “The allegations against my father are false. A section of neighbours tried to tarnish his image for personal gains.”
The victim’s mother, however, said the rector had molested her daughter twice.
“Das had first molested her 10 days ago. She has been behaving abnormally for the past few days and has almost stopped eating. It was only after yesterday’s incident, which I witnessed, that she told me what had happened to her. The rector had warned her not to talk about the molestation with anyone.”
The mother said the school gave over at 4pm but she picked up the child around 4.30pm, as she had to fetch home her other two children as well.
“On Monday afternoon, my daughter was waiting for me near the school gate when Das called her to his office and molested her,” the mother said.
After the mother confronted Das in front of some of his colleagues, the two had a heated exchange before the rector asked her to leave the premises with the child.
Some teachers of Children’s Academy said Das approached the mother and some other relatives of the student thrice since Monday afternoon, requesting them to keep the matter under wraps.
Around 6.30am on Tuesday, Das, along with his wife and a colleague, visited the child’s house again and apologised for “affectionately patting” her.
But the girl’s parents told him that they would discuss the matter in school and in the presence of other guardians. Half an hour later, Das hanged himself.
The teacher-in-charge of the school, Shefali Mohanty, said she had never noticed Das misbehaving with the students since she joined Children’s Academy 25 years ago.
The angry group of guardians who had gathered outside demanded that the management inform them whether it would run the school in Das’s absence. Some of them also sought refund of the amount they had paid before the start of the current academic session.
The trouble continued for half an hour, till a team from Regent Park police station, led by Mehmood Akhtar, the deputy superintendent of police of South 24-Parganas, reached the spot and baton-charged the demonstrators.