A private residential school in Kallakurichi district in north Tamil Nadu was vandalised and at least 12 school buses, three tractors and a police bus were torched as a protest over a class XII girl’s death on the campus turned violent on Sunday morning. Over 50 policemen including a DIG rank officer were injured in the violence and 70 persons were arrested by evening.
While Chief Minister M K Stalin appealed for calm assuring action against those responsible for the girl’s death, DGP Sylendra Babu transferred the probe in the case to the Crime Branch CID and said the school chairman, secretary and principal were arrested for failing to ensure safety measures in the hostel.
The protest had been brewing in the district since Wednesday when the body of the girl with injuries was found in the hostel block by the watchman. The police had suspected the girl jumped off from her room on the third floor and said a note was found in which she accused two of her teachers of humiliating her for not concentrating on academics. However, the girl’s mother raised suspicion over the theory and alleged foul play.
While the protests over the past four days were peaceful, on Sunday, crowds of protestors numbering around a thousand, headed towards the campus of the ECR International School, affiliated to the CBSE, catching the police off-guard. They broke through the police cordon and pelted stones at them before vandalising the campus.
Meanwhile, the district Collector had issued a statement, asking public to maintain peace and imposed Section 144 in Kallakurichi and Chinnasalem.
Apart from hurling stones at the building and damaging furniture, they rammed tractors on the parked school buses and set them ablaze. They also made a bonfire of benches and desks in some of the classrooms.
The protestors had alleged that the girl was sexually assaulted. The post-mortem report said, “All injuries are antemortem and fresh in nature. However, the final opinion has been reserved pending a report of chemical analysis of viscera.”
The entire campus and its surroundings turned into a battle zone and eventually the police had to open fire in the air twice to quell the violence and disperse the mob.
Leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami charged that the violence was caused by Chief Minister M K Stalin’s inaction and intelligence failure. “Trouble was brewing for the past few days. No one from the Government side went to meet the girl’s family. Had they taken appropriate action at the appropriate time things would not have come to this,” he said.
The Madras High Court will on Monday hear a petition filed by the girl’s father in connection with her death. Meanwhile, the girl’s mother alleged her daughter was “murdered” and the school management was not responsive to her pleas for justice.