Monday, November 29, 1999

Caning incident: La Martinere principal says he won``t quit

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Kolkata, June 16 (PTI) With the Church and alumni of La Martinere School for Boys coming out in support of him, principal Sunirmal Chakravarty today said he will not resign in connection with the caning of a student, who allegedly committed suicide later. Chakravarty said he was not planning to resign over the allegation that his caning prompted Rouvanjit Rawla''s suicide. Maintaining that he had apologised to the school governing board for the caning and was ready to face the consequences, he said linking the suicide to his action was "stretching it a bit too far". Church of North India, Kolkata Diocese, which runs the school, said "Taking into account all that has happened, we would request the media not to link the caning of Rouvanjit with his suicide." Executive member of the CNI Synod and Diocese of Kolkata, Suman Biswas, told PTI from Delhi that after Rouvanjit was caned on February 8, he went home and even told his vice-principal in a "laughing spirit" that he could not be detained as the principal had already punished him for the offence. Rouvajit did not come to school for three days and arrived on the fourth day with some stink bombs, Biswas said. "If he was so much in deep anguish, pain and humiliation after his caning, do you think he would have played this kind of trick again in the class?" Biswas said Rouvanjit''s post-mortem report, as quoted in a section of the media today, did not link the suicide with the caning. Biswas said corporal punishment, however, would not be practised in any of the 32 educational institutions run by the CNI Kolkata diocese. Meanwhile, at a press conference, former student Ranen Roy pointed out that Chakravarty has already stated that he was willing to face law. "If he has to resign, there must be very good reason for his resignation." Another former student L Amaseria, quoting media reports of the post mortem finding an orange-coloured liquid in Rouvanjit''s stomach, said, "It could be alcohol. If it is proved so, it means one needs to look further than the incident of caning." Noting that Rouvanjit did not go to school for three days after the caning, Roy said, "We do not know what happened in these three days. Out of 24 hours, a student spends only about six hours in school and the remaining hours outside. It has to be seen whether anything happened outside the school that prompted Rouvanjit to kill himself." Noting that the alumni was not trying to shield the principal, another former student I S Bhandari said, "We want the truth to prevail. If the suicide has been caused by caning, let the guilty be punished. If there are other reasons, let them be uncovered." PTI SBR PC.

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