Anguished parents, students demand justice for Aakriti (Lead)

April 23rd, 2009 - 8:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Facebook New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) Delhi teenager Aakriti Bhatia’s death from asthma snowballed into a major controversy Thursday as anguished parents and screaming students accused the authorities at the reputed Modern School Vasant Vihar of being negligent and insisted on the principal’s resignation.
The school authorities stuck to their guns, denying allegations that they did not take timely action leading to 17-year-old Aakriti’s death Monday, but said the management had ordered an internal inquiry.

“The principal should resign and be put behind bars,” said Aakriti’s mother Bani Bhatia adding they have no faith in the internal inquiry ordered by the school, which is located in south Delhi.

“I will approach the police, court, the chief minister or even the president to get justice. The school should not have waited for us to take Aakriti to hospital,” she said.

Aakriti’s father Vipin Bhatia said: “How can there be an independent inquiry, if Goldy Malhotra remains the principal?”

The Delhi government too has ordered a probe into the incident. Other schools have called Aakriti’s death unfortunate and shocking.

Protests by parents and students hogged national attention Thursday and her peers rallied support on social networking site Facebook, demanding justice for the Class 12 student.

Aakriti had suffered an asthma attack in school Monday and died on the way to hospital. Her parents have registered a police complaint against the school authorities.

In the afternoon, chaos erupted inside the school auditorium where principal Goldy Malhotra was addressing over 100 parents and 140 students of Class 12 about Aakriti’s death.

She said: “It is wrong to say that we delayed medical help to the girl. We did everything to save her. After she reported of breathlessness, we rushed her to the sports room and put her on oxygen. She had called her parents and asked us that she wanted to go home.

She claimed: “Her parents wanted to send her to some relative’s home. After she called her parents, they sent a car and driver but none of the family members came.

“So we put her in the car and rushed to the Holy Family hospital where she was taken into emergency and later was declared dead. Between the van to the hospital, she must have collapsed.”

But parents and students soon erupted with anger.

Aakriti’s best friend, Bindra, who was with her in her last moments, expressed her angst. “Why she was not given oxygen in the van to the hospital? And why there was no ambulance?” she asked tearfully.

Malika, another close friend, said: “It is negligence on the part of the school authorities. Why was the nebuliser not given to her if it was available in school?”

Scores of students seated in the school balcony shouted slogans like “We want justice”.

Mamta Suri, a parent who attended the meeting, told IANS: “When the deceased’s mother (Bani Bhatia) broke down, some people protested. Aakriti’s father Vipin Bhatia started calling people to stand up for them and for the school principal to resign.”

“Seeing this, students started chanting slogans against the administration and all hell broke loose. It was a complete chaos inside the school,” she said.

Poorva, one of the students, said: “We were forced to raise our voice because when we started raising our concern, they shut down our mikes.”

Police said the autopsy report of the victim was still awaited. “We will take necessary action based upon the autopsy report,” said a senior police officer.

Many parents expressed shock over the incident.

“I was horrified to know what had happened in school. A girl who was gasping for breath was not offered a vehicle by the school to take her to hospital,” said a former member of the school’s Parent Teacher Association.

“There are hundreds of cars parked in the school and the principal also possesses a car. Why were they waiting for ambulance? Goldy Malhotra is the most unethical principal I have ever seen and she should resign.”

But there were some parents who supported Malhotra.

“I know Goldy Malhotra well. She is the most responsible person in the school. It’s definitely not her fault. Parents should take responsibility,” said Sippi Jain.

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