Nun principal arrested for student’s suicide in Assam
By Matters India Reporter
Tinsukia: Police in Assam have arrested a Catholic nun from a hospital after a student of her school committed suicide.
Sister Rency Sebastian, principal of St Mary’s Higher Secondary School in Naharkatiya, a town in Dibrugarh district, was taken into custody on September 3 after Namrata Sarmah, a seventh grader ended her life.
The 13-year-old girl committed suicide on August 29 by jumping into a river from a bridge after the nun allegedly insulted her. The bride is some 10 km from the school and 3 km from her home in Sasoni Amguri village in the district.
The nun was charged under Sections 306 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code that deals with abetting the suicide. The nun had allegedly beaten Sarmaha in front of other students.
On August 31, Sister Sebastian, a member of the Dibrugarh province of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians, had denied all charges. “After entering the class I saw objectionable sentences written on desk and benches and inquired who wrote it. Without even naming Namrata, I told the class the school is teaching good things and what have you written,” the nun told The Telegraph newspaper.
Sister Sebastian’s provincial Sister Daisy on September 3 lamented that “an innocent person has been arrested on false evidence and media (reports).” She also claimed that Sister Sebastian had spoken “very nicely to the child and refuted all allegations of slapping her or insulting her.”
Dibrugarh SP Gautam Bora told reporters that they arrested Sister Sebastian from Tinsukia civil hospital and brought to Dibrugarh to produce before a magistrate. Tinsukia is 47 km east of Dibrugarh.
Bora said the girl had gone missing after she left school on August 29 afternoon. Her body was found floating two days later in Burhidehing River in Naharkatiya, which is 490 km northeast of Guwahati, the major city in the northeastern Indian state.
A suicide note left on the river bank along with Namrata’s school bag described Sister Rency as “very bad” as she had slapped her in front of “all my friends.”
Naharkatiya police station officer in-charge Prasanta Borah said the principal beat Namrata because she had supposedly scribbled some adverse remarks somewhere about a teacher.
“What we have gathered is that she was physically assaulted and also humiliated in front of other students by the principal. She hurt her eye during the assault. Another teacher humiliated her later, which probably prompted her to take such a drastic step,” Borah added.
Dibrugarh additional superintendent of Police Surjeet Singh Panesar said other students also corroborated the nun beating the girl.
The police have asked for seven day custody of the nun. Borah said they would take the nun into their custody after she is discharged from the hospital.
On September 2, the Dibrugarh district administration ordered a magisterial probe into the student’s suicide. The move came after the report submitted by child protection unit, under the state department of social welfare, failed to fix responsibility.
The girl’s father and guardians of her classmates have slammed the police’s alleged tardy investigations.
Dibrugarh deputy commissioner Laya Madduri said he has asked for the probe report within 10 days.
Hundreds of people attended Sarmah’s last rites on September 1 at Tippling cremation ground.
Earlier, agitated people had surrounded the Naharkatiya police station.