Bengal ragging death: Principal granted bail

Kolkata, Sep 16 (IANS) A West Bengal court Monday granted bail to the school principal who was arrested following the death of a minor girl student after she was allegedly ragged inside the school in the North 24-Parganas district.

Helen Sarkar, the principal of the Christ Church School in Dum Dum, was granted bail on a Rs.5,000 bond, her counsel said.

"The prosecution did not oppose Sarkar's bail, following which the court was pleased to grant relief. The case will come up for hearing Sep 30, when Sarkar will have to be present before the court," her counsel Subhas Dutta said.

Sarkar was arrested Sep 12 night and subsequently remanded in police custody for three days following protests by parents who blamed her for the death of 10-year-old Oindrila Das.

The Class 5 student died Sep 11, a week after she was allegedly locked up inside the school toilet by some of her seniors who, raggingn her, demanded money from her.

Sarkar was booked under several non-bailable charges following a police complaint by the dead girl's family.

The protestors Sep 12 vandalised the school and forced Sarkar to publicly apologise for Oindrila's death, as well as step down from the principal's chair.

The school, since the vandalism, has been closed indefinitely. The Calcutta Diocese of the Church of North India, which runs the school, has ordered a probe into the matter.

"Whether Helen Sarkar will be reinstated as principal depends on the committee inquiry report. The school will reopen once the committee gives the go-ahead," said Paritosh Canning of the Calcutta Diocese.

Over a dozen people have been arrested so far for the vandalism, which has evoked criticism from political parties and Governor M.K. Narayanan.

Following Oindrila's death, state education minister Bratya Basu ordered a probe into the matter. However, the students accused of having locked the deceased girl are yet to be identified.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who earlier called up the bereaved family, has said action would be taken against the guilty students.

The issue has taken political colour after the ruling Trinamool Congress and the opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) traded charges, blaming each other for the vandalism triggered by the student's tragic death.

While Trinamool general secretary Mukul Roy claimed the vandalism was a result of "CPI-M's conspiracy", Marxist leader Mohammad Salim hit back, saying "the vandalism was only a part of a series of attacks that have been carried out on educational institutions under the new regime".

Students, teachers and a section of parents welcomed the court's decision to grant bail to Sarkar.


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