Schoolgirl recounts horror

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Siliguri
  • Published 5.09.05
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Siliguri, Sept. 5: It took the guts of a 15-year-old girl from another country to undo the wrong being allegedly committed by the principal of her school.

The alleged misdemeanours by Bobby Chachan, the principal of Bethany Boarding School in Kurseong, had been going on for some time, but the sufferers did not protest till the Class IX student decided enough was enough.

Taslima (not her real name), from Chittagong, had taken admission to the school in Class VIII after her parents perceived that the academic standard of her previous school was not up to the mark. Most students of this coeducational institution are boarders and over 70 per cent of them from Bangladesh.

Sitting in her hotel room in Siliguri with her parents before leaving for home today, Taslima related to The Telegraph the incidents leading to yesterday’s showdown. “My classmates and I had been noticing how Principal Sir, who teaches us geography, used to come up to my desk and say ‘beautiful mountain’ or ‘lovely lake’ while stroking my hair.

“Though I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed, I could not say anything. On the night of August 13, after the school fete, when most of the boarders had gone home for the Independence Day break, we were chatting in our dormitory around 10.30 pm. The principal’s room is on the floor above. Suddenly, he called out to us and started banging on the dormitory door. I opened it and he asked me why there was so much noise,” Taslima said.

As she was a prefect, the principal asked her to step outside. “I could make out that he had been drinking. He asked me to get a cold drink, which I did. Then he told me to latch the dormitory door from outside as he wanted to discuss something important. But I kept it slightly open.”

She recounted how their conversation veered from the school fete to love. “I trust you a lot,” he told her. “Then, he suddenly hit the wall and said he didn’t love his wife. I told him it was no use telling me all this. He then asked me to name all the girls of my class.

“Halfway through, he interrupted and asked ‘what about your name’ which I mentioned, upon which he said he loved me. He held my hand, hugged me and started kissing me. I pleaded with him to let me go.... Then I somehow freed myself and fled into the dorm.”

Taslima locked the door and started crying. Her friends had seen the entire episode from inside.They comforted her. But solace could come only from her parents, whom she called soon after.

Her father, a businessman, arrived late last month with her mother and decided to pull out Taslima from the school. “We will take her back home where she will study her levels at the British Council school.” He has taken the transfer certificate, mark sheets and Taslima’s passport, which had been with the principal.

“But I thought he had to be exposed or the menace would continue,” he said. The family met him in his office yesterday. Chachan denied the charges and dared the girl to speak about it in the hall, where Teachers’ Day celebrations were on. She did just that. When the principal again denied the charges, she slapped him and he rushed back to his room.

Police picked up Chachan last evening.