The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Child beaten, hair yanked off
- Teacher torture of five-year-old for class slip-up

Five-year-old Varnika Gupta refused to go to school on Wednesday. And going by a complaint lodged with the Bidhannagar (South) police station, the girl cannot be blamed.

For, the case registered by her father against Varnika's art teacher tells a horror tale of torture ' all because the nursery student had forgotten to put her art-and-craft papers in a plastic carrybag.

On Tuesday, little Varnika went to Our Lady Queen of the Missions School in Salt Lake, near Nicco Park, like it was any other day. But she had committed a cardinal sin in the eyes of art teacher Ruma Pal ' she was carrying her art-and-craft work in hand, and not in a carrybag, as instructed.

The child paid a horrible price for the slip-up ' the art teacher allegedly beat her up mercilessly, boxed her ears and tugged at her hair so hard that she yanked off a tuft, leaving a bald patch above the girl's right ear.

School principal Smita Thomas said on Wednesday: 'Let me first talk to the teacher. The children are asked to carry their craft papers in plastic carrybags because these often dirty the floor, and can even be lost.'

A weeping Varnika, in considerable pain, returned to her AE Block home after school got over around 11.30 am. The girl narrated her story to mother Swapna.

'My daughter was in a state of shock' Now, she is too scared to go back to school,' said Varnika's mother. A doctor has also advised the girl a few days' rest.

On Wednesday, father Hitesh Gupta went to school and demanded an explanation from the authorities about the torture inflicted on his daughter.

'I told them that my daughter might have died' I asked for a written promise that she would not face such treatment in future. But a section of the staff went on the offensive and so, I had no option but to lodge a complaint,' said Hitesh.

He went straight from the school to Bidhannagar (South) police station. 'I hope the police will do something, as the school authorities have no right to torture my child, whatever her fault,' Hitesh averred.

Superintendent of police (North 24-Parganas) Parveen Kumar said: 'A complaint has been lodged, but we haven't been able to contact the teacher. A medical test of the child will be conducted.'

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