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Child rights panel letter to GD Birla

An official of the commission said the school had been given seven days from the receipt of the letter to reply
GD Birla Centre for Education
GD Birla Centre for Education
A file picture

Subhankar Chowdhury   |   Calcutta   |   Published 26.06.19, 01:46 AM

The state child rights commission has written to GD Birla Centre for Education seeking to know whether female attendants were present outside the washroom where Class X student Krittika Paul was found dead with wounds she is suspected to have inflicted on herself.

The chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti, said the school authorities had said they would station female attendants outside the washrooms after an earlier incident had raised questions about student safety on the campus.

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Chatterjee Chakraborti said had the school kept its promise the attendants would have noticed that the girl was spending an unusually long time in the washroom and intervened.

“It must have taken her a very long time to inflict the wounds on herself, as has been suggested by police. So, we think the presence of female attendants could have helped. Besides, the last time the school had assured us about the presence of female attendants outside the washroom. We want to know what happened to that assurance?” said Chatterjee Chakraborti.

The letter addressed to the school’s governing body asks: “Whether any female attendant was there to monitor the ingress and egress of the students from the washroom on that day (June 21)?”

Krittika, 14, had excused herself to go to the infirmary — referred to as the “restroom” in the school — towards the end of the fifth period on Friday. She never returned to class.

Two of her friends started looking for Krittika around the seventh period, and eventually tracked her in the washroom, bleeding and unconscious.

An official of the commission said the school had been given seven days from the receipt of the letter to reply.

Repeated calls to principal Sharmila Nath went unanswered. She did not respond to text messages either.

The letter, in which the commission has raised five points, also asks the school to report on the behavioural conduct of the Class X student over the few days before she was found dead.

“We have requested the school to share the footage outside the washroom and let us know when they came to know about the death,” a commission official said.

The commission has requested the school authorities to give due importance to the guardians’ forum — constituted after an earlier incident — and interact with them to maintain transparency.

“An interaction between the guardians and the authorities on issues such as mental health and safety can always be fruitful. The girl’s death has raised questions on whether she was of sound mental health. If the parents spot some aberrations in the mental health of their wards, they can share those details during the interaction with the school authorities,” the official said.

The forum had written to the commission on Monday, seeking its intervention in setting up a meeting with the school authorities.

“The guardians’ forum had earlier complained about the absence of female attendants outside the washroom. I had sought to know from the school authorities if the allegations were true. They said female attendants were available outside the washroom. I had asked the school to ensure they were there. But the death of the Class X student makes it apparent that attendants were not present. That’s why we have raised the point,” Chatterjee Chakraborti said.



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