Protests have been on at Kolkata's GD Birla School, where a four-year-old was sexually abused.
The sexual assault of a child at a Kolkata school has exposed gaps in safety in schools. If your child's school does have a CCTV, it's because the school has chosen to put them up. Not because there are laws that make CCTVs at schools a must. The state doesn't monitor the schools. The boards they are affiliated to have some safety guidelines but don't check if they are followed. That is why the school where the four-year-old was abused got away with not a single CCTV in place though a girl was molested there three years ago.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday spoke for the first time on the issue. "All teachers are not bad. But there are some bad people. We have to take action against them. It's a very bad incident."
There's day-long chaos outside the school gate where the incident took place. Its management has shut down GD Birla school indefinitely. Some parents want it reopened. But not others, nor the father of the girl who was molested inside the school.
"My fight is with the GD Birla group," the father said. "When I admitted my daughter, I did not know the name of the principal or the PT teachers. I only knew the GD Birla brand. If they are guilty, the school should be shut. If they are not guilty, the school should be opened," he said.
Who is responsible for his daughter's plight? Certainly the two teachers arrested for alleged abuse. But why should action not been taken against the school management for failing to install CCTVs despite a molestation case in the past?
The GD Birla School is affiliated to CISCE - the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination which takes the ISC and ICSE exams. After the Ryan International murder case in Gurugram in September, the Council asked for security audits from all affiliated schools - including GD Birla. But that changed nothing. GD Birla did not install CCTVs till November 30 when the child was molested.Should the state step in?
Lt Col Suresh Nath, administrator of Modern High School For Girls, said, "Presently every school takes security steps within their ambit. If the government streamlines it, it would be better."
Modern High has 52 CCTVs. La Martiniere for Girls and Boys - two separate schools -- has 750 cameras. But their secretary Mr Supriyo Dhar is looking for better options and may have found one.
"Recently we received a request letter from CISF saying they have developed security system
for educational systems. Whether we would like to implement them or take their advice. To which we have replied the very same day that we are very much interested to have their advice to train our security men," said Mr Dhar.
"What could be better? The CISF is the country's best security agency," he added.