Vishva Bharati case: Girl yet to recover from shock (Lead)

July 10th, 2012 - 9:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Somnath Chatterjee Kolkata, July 10 (IANS) Traumatised and shocked, the 10-year-old girl who was allegedly made to drink her own urine in the Visva-Bharati campus as a punishment for bedwetting is finding it difficult to cope with the situation, her father said Tuesday.

“She is yet to recover from the shock. She has not been eating properly. She is having problems coping with life after what happened with her. The doctors have advised us to keep her happy and try to help her forget about the incident,” Manoj Mistri, the girl’s father, said.

Apprehensive of a repeat of the incident, the girl also does not want to go back to the school.

“I won’t go back to the hostel. I want to study in another school. They may again ask me to do the same thing. It is so shameful for me to lick my own urine, said the Class 5 student of Patha Bhavan school in West Bengal.

Her parents have agreed to her wish.

“After the incident, she is not agreeing to go to the school. What else can we do? We may get her admitted to another school,” said Mistri.

“Being a 10-year-old, when I do not believe in such superstitions, how the warden can have faith in such things?” she said.

The Visva-Bharati university authorities have claimed that the warden, Uma Poddar, asked her to lick the urine since she believed the practice would cure her of bedwetting.

The authorities, after receiving flak from all quarters on the issue, have requested the girl’s parents to make her a day scholar.

“We got a call from the university today asking us to take back our daughter and continue her studies as a day scholar,” said Poonam Mistri, the girl’s mother.

Meanwhile, the police, after being rebuked by the court for going “soft” on the warden, have lodged a case under section 23 of the Juvenile Justice Act which deals with cruelty to a child and has a maximum punishment of six months imprisonment or fine or both.

“Following the court’s order, we have brought in section 23 of the Juvenile Justice Act against Poddar,” Superintendent of Police (Birbhum) Rishikesh Meena said.

The incident has attracted severe criticism from all quarters and also reached the Prime Minister’s Office.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has sought detailed reports from the university and the state government on the incident.

West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan has also reportedly sought a report from the university.

Former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, describing the incident inhuman and shameful, said: “People send their children to hostels hoping they would be taken good care of there. But after this incident, they may not feel the same.

I don’t know how such a superstitious practice can cure bedwetting. Moreover, how a warden from such a distinguished university believe in such things?” he said.

According to the complaint filed by the parents, the incident occurred Saturday evening when Poddar, while on an inspection, pulled up the girl for bedwetting. She allegedly then sprinkled salt on the urine and made the girl lick her urine as a punishment.

After the girl told her mother about the ordeal, her parents and several other people stormed the hostel premises and allegedly manhandled Poddar.

Following the incident, the university set up a four-member fact-finding committee, headed by former dean of students welfare Aruna Mukherjee, to probe the matter.

Acting on the report, the university relieved Poddar of her duty as warden.

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