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Child sexual assault: demonstrations held for fourth day

Press Trust of India  |  Kolkata 

The parents of students of the G D Birla Centre for Education organised protests for the fourth consecutive day today against the sexual assault of a four- year-old girl allegedly by two teachers of the institution.

The demonstrators of the Guardians Forum said they would participate in a meeting with the school management committee, to be held in the school premises tomorrow, as demanded by them.

The meeting would be attended by the school managing committee, representatives of the forum, senior police officers and officials of the state education department to resolve the impasse and ensure fool-proof security for their wards, a forum member told PTI.

The forum had turned down a request by the Police yesterday to hold the meeting at an auditorium of the force. It stuck to its demand that the school management, including the chairman, come to the school for discussions.

"We are hopeful of a breakthrough as the school authorities have two of our principal demands - sacking of the two accused teachers and agreeing to hold talks with the Guardians Forum on the main issue of fullproof safety of our children," a Guardians Forum member told PTI.

The forum also demanded that the authorities withdraw the notice of indefinite suspension of classes as the gaurdians are not against the functioning of the school, he said.

Asked about the demand for arrest of the school principal Sharmila Nath for allegedly suppressing facts about the alleged sexual assault, the member said, "We are happy that she has been summoned to the Police Headquarters at Lalbazar. We have full faith in the law enforcing authorities and hope the two arrested physical training teachers will be punished in accordance with law."

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned the alleged sexual abuse of the child. "It was an unfortunate incident. We all condemn this."

Banerjee told reporters here during the day that action should be taken against the perpetrators.

"I don't think that for a particular teacher or for two or three teachers, everybody should be blamed. All teachers are not bad. But there are some bad people. We have to take action against them," she said.

BJP Rajya Sabha MP Roopa Ganguly visited the demonstration site and said, "I have come here as a mother to speak to the mothers of children. I am also in favour of action against the principal and immediate reopening of the school."

As a section of guardians said they did not want to politicise the issue and the forum would continue the protest without any political backing, Ganguly said: "I am not here to do politics. I am here as a resident of the city - a worried citizen. A woman."

To a question by the media present at the spot, Ganguly said "I will raise the incident in parliament."

The West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) sought the medical report of the child from the police. It also sought the principal's arrest in the incident and said it would initiate legal action against the school management for shutting it for an indefinite period.

WBCPCR chairperson Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti, who visited the school this morning, told PTI that Sharmila Nath could have dealt with the matter in a "sensible manner".

"On the contrary the principal denied the incident first. Under the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act, she is also an offender. The arrest of the principal is much needed. I have spoken to the Police commissioner and told him that she must be arrested," Chakraborti said.

The school authorities in a notice yesterday informed "parents and all concerned" that the junior and senior sections of the school would be closed from today.

In another notice, it said the two physical training instructors who were arrested on Saturday for allegedly assaulting the child have been "removed from service".

The school authorities also promised to extend full cooperation to the police in the investigations.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, December 04 2017. 19:00 IST