The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Teacher tastes caste-slur stick

Krishnagar, May 12: The headmistress of a school in Nadia has been suspended on charges of making snide remarks about students belonging to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes.

The incident follows Bengal cadre IAS officer L.V. Saptharishi's allegations of caste bias among election commissioners and the chairperson of the Industrial Development Bank of India being arrested under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, on charges of making casteist comments about a colleague.

Radhanath Biswas, the secretary of the managing committee of Dignagar Girls' High School, about 80 km from Calcutta, and the former sabhadhipati of Nadia zilla parishad, said the panel had unanimously decided to suspend headmistress Kuheli Pramanik as she had not responded to the showcause notice.

'The allegations against the headmistress are grave. We have received complaints that she humiliated SC and ST students through remarks that smack of a caste bias. Some students broke down in front of me. So, I slapped a showcause notice on her,' said Biswas.

The district inspector of secondary schools, Mahadeb Soren, said the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education had been informed about the suspension. 'The managing committee of the school comes under the board. So, we have informed it,' he said.

The secretary said, according to the complaints, Pramanik had told some students that they do not deserve facilities they get as members of backward classes. 'She also told some students not to waste time studying in the school as it would be better to marry sweepers who worked there,' claimed Biswas.

'Initially the students were silent. Only last month they told other teachers about it, ' said the secretary of the school's managing committee.

Teachers, Biswas claimed, had complained that whenever the headmistress became angry she would pick on the SC and ST students and criticise their caste and make snide remarks, even about their complexion.

Pramanik, a member of the CPM-controlled All Bengal Teachers' Association, said the management committee had suspended her 'illegally' and threatened to move court.

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