iconimg Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times
Guwahati, March 11, 2014
A 12-year-old girl committed suicide by immolating herself after a teacher allegedly punished her for carrying an ‘objectionable letter’ in her schoolbag. The girl, Nibedita Dey, was a class 5 student of the English medium Sophy Mercy School in eastern Assam’s Sivasagar town, some 400km from Guwahati. She was the daughter of a college lecturer. The girl’s ordeal began last week after the school authorities found the letter and told her to inform her parents for a meeting. She did not, fearing punishment from her parents.

The principal, a woman, allegedly tortured Nibedita mentally and physically in school the next day. On Saturday, she set herself on fire when no one was around. Neighbours, alerted by her scream, took her to a local hospital. She was later shifter to a hospital in Dibrugarh where she succumbed to burn injuries on Sunday. In a statement in the hospital, Nibedita said she was innocent and was framed.

Her parents later lodged a complaint with the local police against the school authorities. The police subsequently detained the accused principal.

“It appears to be a case of suicide. But we are investigating the case,” Sivasagar superintendent of police Bijoy Kuligam said.

 The incident triggered protests in Sivasagar district with a number of organisations demanding action against the erring teacher. “We have demanded a magisterial probe because we want the culprit to get punished,” said Ashwini Chetia, a leader of All Tai Ahom Students’ Union.

“Harassment has cost a minor her life. We want the government to step in and take action,” Prabal Dey of the All Assam Bengali Youth Students’ Federation, said.