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Tragedy after teachers’ blunder

Krishnagar, July 25: When Rupa Haldar told her teachers she had a splitting headache and wanted to go home, they thought it was just another excuse to bunk classes.

Unaware that the 16-year-old had been battling a brain tumour for the last six months, the headmistress of Panshila Girls’ School at Maheshgunj, about 120 km from Calcutta, also ignored Rupa’s plea yesterday.

The Class X student fell unconscious shortly before school got over and was declared “brought dead” at Saktinagar Hospital.

Residents of Maheshgunj, in Nadia’s Nabadwip area, and students of Rupa’s school dragged the teachers and the headmistress out, ransacked the school and put it under lock and key. Students from another school, too, joined them.

They hurled stones at the school, smashing windowpanes, and blocked a road leading to Krishnagar for several hours.

Rupa’s father Mahadeb, a fisherman, said the brain tunour was detected at Saktinagar Hospital six months ago. “But as I could not afford the expensive treatment, I took my daughter to a local homoeopath. I even informed the school about my daughter’s condition.”

One of Rupa’s schoolmates alleged that she was slapped by one of the teachers when she complained about the headache yesterday morning.

“Rupa told the teachers that she had a severe headache. But they did not pay any attention and one of them even slapped her,” said Kalyani Haldar, a Class XII student.

Rupa’s classmate Samita Haldar said she went to headmistress Shanta Bhattacharya’s office around 1 pm.

“We are very careful about our students coming in contact with bad boys from the locality. So we don’t allow early leave to our students. Rupa wanted to go home. I asked her to go and splash some water on her face and head and come to me if she did not feel better. But she did not come to me again. I also don’t know about any teacher slapping her,” Bhattacharya said.

Around 3.30 pm, half-an-hour before the school closes, Rupa collapsed in her classroom.

She was first taken to the Nabadwip block hospital from where she was referred to Saktinagar Hospital.

When news of her death spread this morning, over 700 students and about 1,000 residents stormed Rupa’s school.

Soma Debnath, one of Rupa’s classmates, fell unconscious during the demonstration and had to be admitted to Saktinagar Hospital.

“My daughter was a close friend of Rupa. She participated in the protest with all her strength and energy,” said Soma’s father Niranjan, a weaver.

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