The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Left to rot in smelly school toilet

Cooch Behar, Jan. 29: In the dark, urine-streaked, faeces-scarred school toilet, the nine-year-old had no one but a small ventilator on the wall to count on.

After he was thrown in the stinking hell, locked and forgotten yesterday for an offence he said he had never committed, Dipankar Sil, a Class IV student at Sarada Shishutirtha, a primary school in Tufanganj, sobbed, wept and wailed.

In sheer desperation, the boy, accused of stealing Rs 2 from a classmate, also banged his head against the mute walls.

But there was no one to listen to his desperate cries for help, which grew faint as the sun dipped below the grey horizon and an eerie stillness enveloped the school building.

The student had been left locked in the toilet as “punishment” after school ended and all the students and teachers were gone.

When his tears dried up and his voice was parched from the screaming, the boy, exhausted from his vain attempts at escape, knelt down on the filthy floor. He had almost given up when his eyes rested on the small ventilator on the wall.

The boy scrambled to his feet, reached up on his toes and clung to an iron bar jutting out of the wall next to the ventilator, which stood between life and death.

A few minutes later, he was out in the open, having slipped out through the air duct.

The students’ parents filed a strong complaint with the police and civil administration in Tufanganj today, accusing the headmaster of “illegally confining the boy to the school toilet and physically and mentally torturing him”.

“The headmaster had almost killed my son. He should be punished severely,” Dinesh Sil, the father said.

Tufanganj deputy magistrate T.T. Sonamla said the administration had started an inquiry. “We have taken it very seriously. The guilty will not be spared.”

Headmaster Parimal Konar admitted he had “locked” the student in the school toilet to teach him a lesson. “But before school ended, I let him out. There was no question of keeping him confined in the toilet after we had all gone.”

Dipankar, who still looked shaken, said he had not stolen the money from his classmate.

“The headmaster himself went through my bag and pockets, but did not find it. In fact, he became very angry when he failed to find the money on me. He told me he would teach me a lesson I would never forget.”

The CPM-affiliated Students Federation of India has threatened to stage a demonstration at the SDO office tomorrow to demand the arrest of the headmaster.

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