A high school teacher allegedly forced a 13-year-old girl in India to strip in the common room, in front of other teachers, after accusing her of stealing Rs 50 from a classmate on Wednesday. The money was not found.
According to reports, on Wednesday, a Class VIII girl of Giribala school complained to teacher Rupali Dey that a classmate had stolen a Rs 50 note she had kept in her bag. She suspected the girl sitting next to her. The teacher rummaged through the girl’s schoolbag in the classroom itself as other students watched. When she did not find anything, she accused the student of hiding the money on her person.
Rupali took her to the common room and ordered her to strip, say the teenager’s parents.
“I told the teacher repeatedly that I did not steal the money and pleaded with her not to blame me, but she did not listen. After taking me to the common room, Rupali ma’am asked me to undress. When I refused, she forcibly stripped me and started searching,” the girl told TOI at her home on Friday. Other teachers in the common room watched as Rupali took off the girl’s clothes. But the money was not found.
The teacher asked her to put on her dress and leave, without as much as an apology. The student was in tears by then and asked to be allowed to go home as she was not feeling well. The teacher let her leave.
The girl returned home and broke down before their parents. The news spread quickly and a huge crowd of parents gathered at the school gates on Thursday. Headmistress Anita Biswas paid no heed to their complaint, they said. “We also met the teacher, Rupali Dey, and wanted to know what had happened with my daughter, but she refused to talk to us. I requested to be allowed to speak with the headmistress or any other official of the school but nobody took the matter seriously,” said the girl’s father.
The parents turned up at the school again on Friday morning. This time, other guardians joined the protest but when they went to meet the headmistress, she allegedly “threw them out”, say the parents. They finally lodged a complaint at Gopalnagar police station.
No action had been taken against Rupali till late Friday night either by the police or the school authorities. Bongaon North MLA Biswajit Das promised to help the parents. “I have only now come to know about the incident. If the teacher is found guilty, strong action should be taken against her.”
The headmistress, however, refuted the allegation. “The girl was not stripped by the teacher. In fact, she tried to undress on her own to prove that she was innocent because her classmates continued to blame her for stealing money. Our school has a good reputation. Some people are trying to malign us,” she said.
“My daughter was stripped in front of several teachers. She is in deep trauma and can be scarred for life. She keeps crying that she cannot go to school any more or face her classmates. Who gave the teacher the right to strip my daughter, or any student for that matter? If she was suspected of wrongdoing, the authorities should have summoned us,” said the girl’s mother.
This is the second such incident in North 24-Parganas in a fortnight. On June 29, a teacher had stripped off the leggings of a schoolgirl in front of her classmates, including boys, because she was “improperly dressed”.
The teacher who allegedly stripped and searched a girl student of class VIII on the charge of stealing money from her classmate at a school in North 24 Parganas district was arrested today, police said.
The girl’s father Pabitra Mondal lodged an FIR yesterday alleging that teacher Rupali Dey of Gopalnagar Giribala Balika Vidyalaya took his daughter to the staff room and stripped and searched her on July 11.
However, the stolen money was not found on her person.
After her arrest, Dey was produced before a court in Bongaon where she was released on bail on a surety of Rs 500.
A case under section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage modesty) and section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of IPC was lodged against the teacher.
Meanwhile, students of the school put up road blockade for sometime near their school to protest against the incident.