A primary schoolteacher in Gaighata, North 24-Parganas, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Barasat sub-divisional court on Thursday on charges of raping three minor students.
Police said Mahananda Majumdar, 55, who taught mathematics in South Katakhali Primary School, was arrested on November 22, 2001, after the parents of the students lodged a complaint against him with Gaighata police station.
In their complaint, the parents said Majumdar had asked three girl students, aged between seven and nine, to stay back after school for some extra classes on November 20. He told the girls — two from Class II and the third from Class III — that they required “special care” as they were lagging behind in class.
“But on that excuse, Majumdar called the three girls, one by one, into the empty teachers’ common room and raped them. He also warned them against complaining against him,” wrote Asoke Sardar, father of one of the victims, in his complaint.
The girls did not attend school the next day and, after much persuasion, told their parents what had happened. “We rounded up Majumdar from his residence on the basis of the complaints lodged by the girls’ parents and sent them for a medical examination. The reports confirmed that the girls had been sexually abused,” said a police officer.
The trial continued for more than two years, with 12 witnesses deposing before the judge. On Wednesday, the judge indicted Majumdar and pronounced the verdict on Thursday afternoon in a packed courtroom.
Additional judge of Barasat third court P.G. Dutta observed that “such heinous crimes should be firmly dealt with to maintain the sanctity of the teacher–student relationship”. He also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on Majumdar, failing which he will have to serve another year of rigorous imprisonment.
Public prosecutor Ramen Aich said Majumdar was charged under Section 376/2S, dealing with child abuse.
Majumdar’s wife was present in court when the verdict was delivered. She chose not to speak to reporters and quietly left the courtroom.
Majumdar said he had been framed. “I am the victim of a deep-rooted conspiracy,” he cried, while being led away by police to the prison van.
“I was maligned by some people with vested interests as I had been trying to do some good work for the school,” he added, before the doors of the van slammed shut on him.
Police had a tough time controlling villagers from Gaighata and Katakhali areas who had thronged the Barasat courtroom. “The teacher had such allegations levelled against him earlier, too,” complained Gajid Ali Miah of Gaighata.
Sardar, a guardian of one of the girls, expressed relief over the “exemplary punishment”.