Nun principal arrested for student’s suicide in Assam

The seventh grader committed suicide on August 29

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.

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7 thoughts on “Nun principal arrested for student’s suicide in Assam

  1. It shows that our education system have failed to educate the people to judge between good and bad, between right and wrong and between justice and injustice. We have crowed mentality.

  2. I am really saddened that a 13 year old girl with a delicate mind has committed suicide after receiving a correction, and may a punishment from the School Principal sister Vincey Sebastian. It is also sad that the nun living a life dedicated to children and their education has been arrested on allegations yet to be verified. Now the law will take its course and I am sure those in the justice system will ensure that the truth is established, and that the innocent are not punished .
    We are in a new world, the children of today are different from us when were children. The teachers need to learn new skills of positive discipline to handle children of modern times. Even school administration needs to be updated and adapted to modern times to handle successfully the modern -age children.
    I pray that an impartial investigation will be done and vested interests will not be allowed to take advantage of this unfortunate incident . My heartfelt condolences to the family of the girl who committed suicide. I pray that the nun will be proved innocent. I pray that the justice system will take into consideration the complexity of educating and disciplining children today, and the challenges teachers face, and also consider teachers as next to parents…
    Father Lukose Cheruvalel SDB
    Former Chairperson
    Child Welfare Committee, Kamrup (M)

  3. It is very sad to hear the news.Now the Children are very sensitive.When I was studying in the School we got scolds and beats with cane ocassionaly it is for our GOOD.We did not abuse our Teacher we accept it and rectified our faults.
    NOW THE SITUATION is totally Changed,the Children are more aware of their Rights with out doing their DUTIES.Here all Teachers will be more Carefull and a SITUATION to LOVE,CARE ,AFFECTION,Sharing ,Uplifting concern ,More hearing,Counselling Technique should be more DEVELOPED.Please dont think 100% Result but DEVELOP a new EMPOWERING Adolescents in Schools.TRY FOR A CHANGE IN EDUCATION!

  4. It is a very tragic incident. In our times, my nun principal in Nashik (Maharashtra) also used to punish us with a cane or scold us in front of all other students. But we always felt that it was for our improvement. Now our nun principal is above 75 years. We occasionally visit her and express our gratitude that she taught us to be on the righteous path. It is unfortunate that punishment from teachers is not taken in right attitude. The Police must also investigate whether there is any other angle or reason behind the student’s suicide and spare the nun principal unwarranted hardships.

  5. I am sad to read the news of a teacher because it is teachers’ day. I recall my teachers who had been strict with me during my school days. They have made my character and ethics. I have serious doubt about the modern ideas of not disciplining the children at schools. We must evaluate the results of such rules and policies seriously. As a senor citizen when I look at the present situation in the country there seems to be total break down of discipline and morality from top to bottom. How can this be remedied unless be teach our children self discipline and morality at home and in the schools? I salute my teachers on this auspicious day!

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