Calcutta, Sept. 14: The entire Christian Church has united to protest against the vandalism at Christ Church Girls’ High School and explore ways to prevent a recurrence elsewhere.
The Church of North India (CNI) today said its first priority was to obtain bail for the arrested principal, Helen Sircar.
At the CNI office in Bishop House, Chowringhee Road, multiple meetings were held during the day with members of its own diocese, board members of the Dum Dum school and representatives of the other churches that run schools across Bengal.
The CNI set up three committees — an inquiry panel of six members to probe the death of 10-year-old Oindrilla Das, a monitoring committee to establish the extent of the damage caused during Thursday’s vandalism and suggest restoration measures as early as possible, and a legal advisory committee to look into the options available to secure bail for the principal.
“Our first priority is to obtain the principal’s bail,” said Reverend Abir Adhikari, the honorary secretary of the CNI Calcutta diocese.
Rev. Adhikari said the Church was extremely distressed by the death of Oindrilla Das. The CNI will convene a condolence meeting to pray for the departed soul.
The events that led to the arrest of the principal were discussed in detail today. The representatives of various church bodies decided to go ahead with a protest on September 19 when all Christian missionary schools will be closed.
“The entire Christian Church — Catholics, the CNI, Methodists, Baptists and others — is firmly united on this issue. Our schools and our staff have to be protected from violent acts,” said Rev. Moloy D’Costa, secretary, the Association of Christian Schools.
|Three persons (below) have been arrested for the vandalism at the school. Pictures by
|Biswajit Chakraborty, whose daughter is in
Class V. Biswajit had
told The Telegraph on
Thursday “the principal
was like Hitler”
|Dhiren Rajbangshi, whose daughter is in Class VI
|Golam Mohammad Ali, who runs a meat shop near the school. Golam
allegedly went to see
what was happening and joined in the attack
The association has convened a media conference on Monday on the vandalism. It will be addressed by His Grace Most Rev. Thomas D’Souza, the Archbishop of Calcutta. Rev. Paritosh Canning, vice-president, CNI Calcutta Diocese, Dora Mondol, the secretary of Christ Church School, and Rev. D’Costa will also address the conference.
Shane Calvert, the MLA representing the Anglo-Indian community, said: “I express my solidarity with the school which was vandalised. Such incidents, if allowed, will undermine the whole purpose and objective of the existence of such schools and will demoralise those in education. No one can take the law into their own hands.”
The representatives also discussed ways to prevent a recurrence of the vandalism. The CNI Calcutta diocese runs about 40 schools and colleges in and around Calcutta.
Rev. Adhikari iterated that the CNI would not accept Sircar’s resignation until the monitoring committee and the inquiry team had submitted their reports.
“Let the truth come out first. It is clear from media reports and television footage that Sircar was forced to resign. We will decide about our action only after we examine the findings of our inquiry panels,” said Rev. Adhikari.
Sircar had submitted her resignation to police, not the church officials who had recruited her. But a copy of her resignation letter has reached the Church.
Rev. Adhikari said the CNI had nominated “renowned and efficient” educators and administrators to the inquiry teams. The names would not be disclosed. “We want the inquiry to be unbiased,” said Rev. Adhikari.
The Church will be in a position to fix the tentative date for reopening the school after receiving the report of the monitoring committee.
The probe committee is expected to start the investigations tomorrow and submit the report by the end of next week. “Every step will be taken to ensure that the school is fit to start functioning as early as possible,” Rev. Adhikari added.
About 200 students and guardians gathered outside the school gate this morning demanding that the principal be reinstated.
In the evening, nearly 500 former and current students and their guardians organised a rally demanding the return of Sircar and punishment for those responsible for Oindrilla’s death.
Helen Sircar, the arrested principal, had a request when police officers met her on Saturday morning at Barrackpore police
station: she wanted to speak to her 11-year-
At the OC’s chamber, an officer dialled the number of Sircar’s sister-in-law
and handed the phone
to the principal for the first words with her daughter in 48 hours.
“Tumi kemon achho, mamon? Khachchho
to thik kore (How are you, dear? Are you
having your meals
regularly)?” an officer quoted Sircar as
asking over the phone.
The officer then quoted Sircar as saying:“I am stuck with
relating to the school. Don’t worry about me. I shall be back very soon.
Study hard and don’t pester your uncle and aunt. Be a good girl.”