Calcutta, Sept. 13: Christian missionary schools and colleges across Bengal have decided to remain closed on September 19 to protest the vandalism at Christ Church Girls’ High School yesterday.
The Church of North India (CNI) today said it would not accept the resignation of principal Helen Sircar (not Sarkar as reported earlier) unless and until an internal inquiry held her culpable.
“We will form our own inquiry team to probe exactly what happened at Christ Church Girls’ High School. A decision on whether the resignation of the principal would be accepted or not will depend on the findings of the probe,” said Rev. Paritosh Canning, the vice-president of the Calcutta diocese of the CNI.
The CNI, which runs Christ Church, has called an emergency meeting on Saturday to set up the inquiry team.
Rev. Ashoke Biswas, Bishop and head of the Calcutta diocese of the CNI, is now in London. According to Rev. Canning, the diocese is constantly in touch with the Bishop.
The principal of the 131-year-old school in Dum Dum was arrested on Thursday night after a daylong agitation by a group of rampaging guardians and others who were protesting the death of a Class V student, Oindrilla Das.
A court today denied Sircar bail after police slapped a slew of charges, including abetting a suicide and extortion. The magistrate questioned the basis on which the abetment charge was included, saying the police “seem a little confused”. (See Metro)
But the police claimed they had evidence to prove the extortion charge. The police did not elaborate on the evidence but a section of parents had said the principal had raised money for a fete.
The CNI today said its school principals were picked after rigorous screening and it had not come across any information that suggested Sircar, 43, lacked the skills to deal with students.
At St John’s Diocesan Girls’ Higher Secondary School in Calcutta, where Sircar had joined the primary section as a young graduate, some recalled her as bright and efficient. “She was our best teacher for many years and we could make out very early she was capable of greater responsibility,” said Rosita Christine, a former principal.
The Association of Christian Schools, an organisation of representatives from various church bodies running educational institutions in the state, held an emergency meeting in the city during the day.
The members unanimously decided to keep their institutions closed on September 19, protesting the way the Christ Church school was ransacked.
Schools run by all the churches operating in Bengal — the CNI, the Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church, the Seventh Day Adventist Church and others — will be kept closed on September 19.
The church bodies will take up the vandalism with the government and governor M.K. Narayanan.
“We were surprised to see the way the police handled the case,” said Father Moloy D’Costa, general secretary of the association. “A whole day was taken to rescue the teachers,” he said.
That enough policewomen were not deployed in the girls’ school has also become a cause for complaint. Policewomen were deployed in strength only late in the afternoon.
The authorities of Christ Church shut down the school indefinitely today and CNI officials said the institution would reopen only after repairs were fully over.
The protesters had torn up files and damaged computers containing records such as the Madhyamik and Higher Secondary board registration forms of Class IX and XI students, pre-test results of Class X students and answer scripts.
It has also been alleged that cash the school office had kept for miscellaneous expenses was cleaned out.
Although the school gates were locked this morning, a section of anxious parents and students assembled in front of the gates. They had started pouring in since the morning to express solidarity with the school and register their protest against the vandalism.
CNI vice-president Rev. Canning said the Church would take all possible steps to ensure that the school reopened as early as possible. “Our students are our top priority and we will ensure that they do not suffer,” he said.