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School stampede: ‘principal to blame’

The Khajuri Khas school stampede in September, which left five girl students dead, resulted from the principal’s negligence, reports Vijaita Singh.

delhi Updated: Nov 24, 2009 23:37 IST
Vijaita Singh

The Khajuri Khas school stampede in September, which left five girl students dead, resulted from the principal’s negligence.

That’s the legal opinion obtained by Delhi Police.

Police found the school’s public address system (that could have averted the tragedy) was not maintained and the instructions giving over it were barely audible.

Five girls were killed and 34 other students were injured on September 10 at the government-run senior secondary school in Khajuri Khas when a stampede occurred on the staircase of the school building due to confusion in shifting of classes.

“We had sought legal opinion in the case. Prima facie it has been found that the school principal was responsible,” said SS Yadav, deputy commissioner of police (northeast).

Police said they had recorded the statements of several injured girl students who had said that some boys did misbehave with them.

Police said they would go ahead with the legal proceedings after getting a copy of the report. A senior police officer said that the principal was likely to be arrested on grounds of negligence.

“Some students said they were molested. We are still enquiring,” said the officer.

Following the incident, the Delhi government had sacked the school principal, Bharat Singh, and suspended the then in-charge of the girls’ school, Sudesh Saukin.

Education minister Arvinder Singh Lovely had also transferred six teachers after the incident.

Police said the school authorities had called the girl and boy students together to take their mid-term examinations on September 10.

“As it was raining heavily, the old wing of the school was flooded and the ceilings were leaking. One of the teachers made an announcement that the boys who were already seated on the first floor of the school should come down and the girls should go upstairs. There was confusion among students, and in the ensuing stampede on the only staircase in the school, five girls were killed,” said the officer.

Police said there was mismanagement on part of the school administration as no one guided the students after the stampede, increasing the number of injured students.