GUWAHATI: The authorities in Assam are investigating the case of a school teacher who has accused her co-workers of threatening her with rape and murder and pressurizing her to eat beef and convert to Islam so she could marry a Muslim.
The teacher, Usha Das, has written to Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma narrating her ordeal and stating that she has stopping going to school as a result of the harassment.
Counter-allegations have arisen that the teacher cooked up the story with communal overtones upon being denied a transfer. Officials said the charges are being investigated by the police as well as school authorities.
Usha Das joined the government-run Lalipar Boys Lower Primary School in Morigaon district, 85 km from her native place of Sonapur on the outskirts of Guwahati, in July last year. The school is located in a remote and Muslim-majority area.
In remarks to reporters on Tuesday, Usha Das alleged that she was harassed, teased, abused and threatened with rape and murder by her colleagues. “I faced the problem for three months until I stopped going to school 20 days ago. The headmaster Nurul Islam and his wife made several attempts to make me eat beef but I refused. When it dawned on them as well as fellow teachers that I was looking for a transfer, they threatened me with dire consequences, to the extent that I could be raped and killed outside the school
“I was required to walk for 5 km to reach my school. So a colleague, Akash Ali, would sometimes pick up and drop me. But soon I learnt about his intentions when he had started insisting on marrying me but I turned down his advances. Once, I reported the matter to the headmaster but instead of taking action against the teacher, he said he would arrange my marriage with a businessman of his community,” Usha Das told reporters.
She said she took up the matter with the school authorities but they accused her of cooking up the story in order to secure a transfer.
Morigaon deputy commissioner Hemen Das told New Indian Express that the headmaster of the school complained verbally to the police on September 2 alleging that Usha Das pressurised him for a transfer and threatened to commit suicide if he did not oblige.
“He (headmaster) did not lodge an FIR saying that it was an internal affair of the school which he would resolve internally. But as his statement was serious in nature, it was entered in the police station’s general diary,” Hemen Das said.
“An inspector of schools will probe whether Usha Das did pressurise the headmaster for a transfer, lodge any complaint with officials of the education department or if she was regular in school, etc. The police will investigate if she was pressurised to eat beef and elope or if she was teased or if objectionable comments were hurled at her etc,” he said.
The officer said as the statement of Usha Das was serious in nature and could trigger a communal flare-up, the district administration was taking it very seriously.