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Shimla schoolgirls’ death: Child panel raps govt, wants CID probe
Says teacher guilty of corporal punishment, must be booked for abetment to suicide
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, February 12
Almost four months after two Class VI students of Shimla’s Convent of Jesus and Mary died unnaturally after suffering corporal punishment at the hands of their class teacher, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has directed the Himachal Pradesh government to transfer the case to the crime branch and file a chargesheet in 30 days.

The Commission took a serious note of the complaint by Rajendra Thakur and Kailash Thakur, the fathers of the girls whose bodies were recovered from a gorge along Kala Dhank in Shimla on the evening of September 24 last year. When admitted to the nearest hospital by passersby around 4.30 pm that day, both were declared brought dead. Police investigations revealed the truth of corporal punishment and many schoolchildren testified against the said class teacher (Ambika Nagpal). The school, however, didn’t suspend her.

Convinced that necessary action in the matter has not been taken, the Commission summoned the girls’ fathers, their class teacher Ambika Nagpal, school principal Sister Shyama and state education and police officials on January 3. The principal did not come, but Ambika Nagpal deposed before the Commission that she “did lose lost her temper on a trivial issue when the girls scribbled something on a piece of paper that day; slapped them both and dragged them to the principal’s office”. Subsequently the girls, with swollen cheeks and eyes, were afraid to go home and even asked the school for permission to stay. They were the last to leave the school that day and their bodies were found from Kala Dhank.

“The fact of corporal punishment to the deceased is indisputable and on record on police files. It was imprudent on part of the school principal to allow the teacher to continue to teach children. We have evidence that the teacher made another student who testified against her sit near a dustbin for days. The school must suspend this teacher immediately till the inquiry is complete to avoid threat to and coercion of witnesses,” the Commission said in its January 30 report sent to the Chief Secretary for action in 45 days.

The Commission takes strong objection to the shoddy police investigation. The girls’ books and other materials recovered from the spot of death have not been sent for forensic examination. Dummies of similar size and weight as of the deceased were not used to ascertain the nature and angle of the fall of bodies.

The post-mortem was conducted hurriedly after sunset whereas the convention is to hold it during day time. Instead of acting to investigate the matter, the police arrested the girls’ parents for alleged trespassing the school premises.

The FIR was lodged six days after the incident and a chargesheet has not been filed even after three months. “We are equally surprised as to why the charge of Section 306 IPC of abetment to suicide has not been included in the FIR against the teacher. The state police have a strange explanation. They say they have sent the handwritten note of the girls (which caused the teacher to slap them) for forensic examination and are waiting for the report to determine if the writing is the girls. The Commission is not convinced of the necessity of seeking such a report to include Section 306 IPC in the FIR,” the NCPCR has written to Himachal Chief Secretary asking for the matter to be transferred to the CID.

What happened in class that day

  • Sep 24, 2012: Convent of Jesus and Mary teacher Ambika Nagpal scolds and slaps two Class VI girls before dragging them to the principal’s office after they had scribbled something on a piece of paper
  • The girls, with swollen cheeks and eyes, seek permission to stay back; are the last to leave school that day
  • Bodies of the two students found in a gorge later that evening
  • Police investigations establish corporal punishment; many children testify against the teacher, but she continues to teach





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