Swift steps against Viqarunnisa teachers, one arrested as protesters on the boil

Published: December 06, 2018 11:08:41 | Updated: December 06, 2018 15:33:53

Viqarunnisa Noon School and College students stage protests at its gate on Wednesday. UNB/Files

In a dramatic development, police have arrested one of the three Viqarunnisa teachers who are charged with provoking a student to take her own life by humiliating her and her parents on accusation of cheating in an exam.

The school authorities sacked acting Principal Nazneen Ferdous, class teacher Hasna Hena, and morning shift in-charge Zinat Akhtar on Wednesday evening after Aritry Adhikary’s suicide sparked anger.

Later in the night, police arrested Hena, who was in-charge of the ninth grader’s class, at her Uttara home in the capital, M Atiqul Islam, an assistant commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Detective Branch, said.

These actions came hours after the government scrapped “monthly pay order” benefits for the teachers and Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid instructed the school’s governing body to fire the teachers.

The education ministry also asked police and Rapid Action Battalion to take legal action against the three teachers following a criminal case started by Aritry’s father Dilip Adhikary.

“We’ve launched an operation to arrest the accused. I hope they will be arrested very soon,” Abdul Baten, an additional commissioner at DMP’s DB, said in the evening.

Nahid briefed the media on Wednesday on the findings filed by a government panel that investigated the events leading to the suicide of Aritry.

The minister branded those teachers as the “instigators of the suicide” as he cited findings from the panel.

The law appeared to be closing in on the “rogue” teachers as the case was shifted to the DB.

Earlier in the day, angry students occupied a stretch of Bailey Road in front of the Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, a top institution in Bangladesh. They ratcheted up calls for the resignations of the teachers, especially the principal.

As the day wore on, Principal Nazneen retreated from the media glare and assigned her deputy to announce the suspension of all classes and exams at all branches amid protests by the young students on a scale never seen before.

Mushtari Sultana, a teacher representative in the governing body, said it was decided to sack the teachers after an emergency meeting.

The institution deferred Wednesday’s annual examinations to December 11 while Thursday’s examinations will be held on Friday, according to Mushtari.

The alleged mishandling of the incident that led to Aritry’s death disgraced the top school and turned the spotlight on how teachers across the board behave with students and parents.

Citing the findings by the panel, Nahid said: “The three teachers threatened Aritry’s parents and the principal’s cruel attitude toward her parents shattered Aritry’s heart. That provoked her to die by suicide. She chose to end her life as she could not bear the insult to her parents.”

The teachers cannot deny responsibility for it, Nahid said.

Golam Ashraf Talukder, the chairman of the institution’s governing body, agreed.

“No-one of us can avoid the responsibility for this incident,” he told the demonstrating students.

The protesters handed him a six-point charter of demand, including resignation of the members of the governing body as well.

Meanwhile, moments of the insults Dilip detailed in the case appeared in the media.

Aritry knelt down before the principal and begged for forgiveness by touching her feet, before she killed herself in humiliation in the hands of her teachers on Monday, according to Dilip.

Aritry’s body was found hanging from the ceiling fan of her room locked from inside in their home in Dhaka’s Shantinagar in the afternoon on that day.

Nazneen had earlier refuted the allegation of insulting the parents of the student.

Aritry was barred from an examination on Sunday after she was found to be cheating by using a mobile phone, according to Nazneen.

“We called her parents only to inform them about the incident. They were not insulted,” she had said.

The school authorities supplied a video footage from the CCTV camera of the principal’s office.

Aritry is seen going out of the room after a brief conversation. Her parents returned to the room and spoke to the principal. Some others were busy working in the room.

Many of the protesting students said it was shift in-charge Zinat who insulted Aritry’s parents most.

“They are not showing any evidence of Zinat madam’s offence,” one of the students said.

Asaduzzaman, the father of a classmate of Aritry, was earlier quoted by bdnews24.com as saying he knew Aritry and she never seemed to be a student who could cheat in examinations.

“She might have taken the mobile phone into the examination room. But she was not someone who can cheat. Aritry was very talented and disciplined. She would not have chosen the path of suicide had she been an undisciplined girl,” he said.

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