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Rabindra Sarobar tragedy

South Point teacher ‘owns up responsibility’ for students’ death in letter to parents

Police officer says senior staff member’s statement appears to be ‘more of an emotional note than being a piece of evidence’

Our Special Correspondent | Published 21.06.22, 06:29 AM
Rabindra Sarobar

Rabindra Sarobar

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A senior staff member of South Point High School has written to the parents of one of the two students who drowned while rowing in the Rabindra Sarobar in south Kolkata last month taking moral responsibility for the tragedy.

“I feel I am morally accountable for the irreparable loss you have incurred…. Maybe, had I been present there, I could have saved them. Maybe I would not have allowed them to take the second round at all…. Maybe both of them would have been alive today,” he wrote in a letter that he sent as a WhatsApp message to the father of one of the boys.


He further mentioned that none of the teachers in the school was responsible for the tragedy except him.

The 65-year-old retired sports teacher, who has been retained by the school as a consultant, spoke to The Telegraph on Monday. He said he wrote the letter because of moral responsibility towards the students whom he knew for many years.

“How can I forget that I handpicked them for the school rowing team? I will have this regret till the day I die that I was not at the Lake that afternoon,” he said.

Pushan Sadhukhan and Souradeep Chatterjee, both 14, drowned in the Rabindra Sarobar after their rowing boat overturned during a fierce squall on May 21 afternoon.

The boys were practising for an inter-school regatta whose finals were scheduled at the lake the next morning.

“The boys had initially enlisted their names for a tug-of-war scheduled for May 21 at Bengal Rowing Club. But they withdrew their names at the last moment and went to practice for the next day’s regatta,” said the senior staff member, who was at the school to host other sports activities on May 21 afternoon.

The senior staff member said: “The boys wrote in a common WhatsApp group that they were going to the Lake for practice. I was there at the Lake till 10.30 in the morning for the rowing semi-final, which our boys won. I wish I had left the school sports and accompanied the boys to the Lake in the afternoon. I had thought I would go to the Lake after all the events at the school ended.”

Several guardians The Telegraph spoke to said the senior staff member, who had completed 37 years of service in the school, had been organising sports activities for years. “Sir has an excellent rapport with all students and us, too. We grew up taking instructions from him,” said a guardian, also a former student of the school.

“Pushan and Souradeep were extremely disciplined and focused on the sport. I have no words to console their parents. As I have been arranging all sports activities in the school, I take all the moral responsibility for the incident,” the senior staff member said.

Souradeep’s father has lodged a police complaint against the school and the Lake Club alleging negligence.

A senior officer said the senior staff member’s statement appeared to be “more of an emotional note than being a piece of evidence”.

“This (the declaration) is unlikely to affect the progress of the probe unless something concrete emerges,” said the officer.

Last updated on 21.06.22, 06:29 AM

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