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Viqarunnisa Students, guardians seek justice
Guardians joined the students of the main Viqarunnisa Noon School and College at Bailey Road in daylong protests on the campus and the adjoining streets on Monday demanding justice over suicide committed by class nine student Aritri Adhikari, allegedly after teachers insulted her and her parents in her presence.
Students declared that they would boycott the ongoing annual examinations from today, demanded removal of the principal, assistant headmistress and governing body members.
Protests by the students in front of the school gate resume at 10AM today.
The education ministry and the school authorities formed two separate committees to investigate into the incident.
The school authorities suspended the head of the school’s morning shift allegedly for insulting the student and her parents.
The school authorities also served a show cause notice on her requiring her to explain in seven days why punitive action would not be taken against her.
On Tuesday night, Aritri’s father Dilip Adhikari filed a case with the Paltan police station alleging that principal Nazneen Ferdous, assistant headmistress Jinnat Ara and class teacher Hasna Hena instigated Aritri to commit suicide, sub-inspector Sujon Talukder told BDchronicle.
The High Court Division directed the education ministry to constitute a five-member national committee comprising of experts to frame a policy to prevent suicide by students.
A bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader asked the committee to submit its report within a month.
Student Aritri, 16, daughter of Dilip Adhikari, ended her life by hanging herself from a ceiling fan with a scarf at the family’s Shantinagar residence Monday afternoon.
The tragedy occurred allegedly a day after teachers insulted her parents in her presence on Monday, when her mobile phone was seized on suspicions that she used it to copy her social science paper on Sunday.
Students and their guardians began to gather in front of the school since 9.30AM on Tuesday holding handwritten posters expressing outrage against what they called the school authorities’ misbehavior that led to Aritri’s suicide.
The protesters demanded justice.
They were holding posters inscribed with ‘We demand justice, We demand answers’, ‘Isn’t suicide murder?’, ‘We demand the principal’s resignation’, ‘Principal of VNSC, shame on you’.
At about 11:30am, education minister Nurul Islam Nahid arrived on the campus and faced the angry students and their guardians who repeated their complaints.
Nahid assured them justice and later spoke to the teachers and students and went round the hall where students were writing scripts of their annual examinations.
Turning to reporters present on the campus he described Aritri’s death as extremely shocking and assured that punitive action would be taken after investigation.
Viqaeunnissa principal Nazneen Ferdous, told reporters in her office room that a three-member committee led by a guardian had been formed to investigate into the incident and submit its report within three days.
‘It is an extremely shocking incident, we are shocked. The school authorities will take action against the teacher who allegedly insulted her parents,’ said the principal.
She said that the examinations would be taken later if any student could not appear in the exams.
School managing committee president Golam Ashraf Talukder told reporters in the afternoon that the head of the school’s morning shift Jinnat Ara had been suspended and served a show cause notice requiring her to explain in seven days why punitive action would not be taken against her.
At about 4:00pm, a large number of students gathered in front of the school and took out a procession holding a banner inscribed with the demand, ‘We want justice’.
The bench asked the government to include education ministry additional secretary, a psychologist, a legal expert, an educationalist and a deputy secretary of the social welfare ministry in the national committee.
The committee was asked to make it mandatory for the educational institutions to appoint psychologists for counseling teachers and students to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
The bench also asked the government to explain in four weeks why it would not be directed to formulate a policy to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
The bench also asked the government to explain why it would not be directed to hold an inquiry into the incident and punish those responsible for the death of Aritri.
The court also asked the committee to submit the probe report within one month identifying the reasons behind Aritri’s death.
Lawyers Aneek R Haque, Jyotirmoy Barua and Aynunnahar Siddiquica Lipi brought the incident to the court’s notice.
An education ministry press release announced that a three-member committee had been formed led by Dhaka region’s director of Secondary and Higher Education professor Mohammad Yusuf and it was asked to submit its report in three days.
In separate statements, Ain o Salish Kendra, Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum, Child Rights Advocacy Coalition in Bangladesh, Samajtantrik Chhatra Front, condemned the incident and demanded justice for the family following proper investigation.