(Trigger warning: Description of homophobia.)
The Faridabad Police recently filed a charge sheet in the case of a 16-year-old schoolboy, who died by suicide in February this year over bullying, homophobia, and harassment by fellow students at a prominent private school in Greater Faridabad.
Speaking to The Quint over the phone, the mother of the Class 10 student, who has been fighting for justice for the past 10 months, said, "I'm very relieved. I can finally sleep now."
The charge sheet has been filed against the principal of the school, under Section 21 (punishment for failure to report or record a case) of the POCSO Act, and the academic coordinator, under Section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the IPC and Section 21 of the POCSO Act.
Three other students, who have been named as accused in the case, have not been chargesheeted yet.
The 16-year-old's handwritten notes, the recordings of his phone calls with his friends alleging abuse, and an email complaint that his mother – who was a teacher at the same school – sent the administration over an incident of harassment have been presented as evidence in the charge sheet, which has been filed before a district court.
His mother told The Quint that in the voice call recordings, the teenager can be heard narrating to his friends that he was sexually harassed by a few students in the school washroom when he was in Class 8.
'Police Didn't Inform Me'
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed to probe the teenager's suicide filed the charge sheet on 6 December. His mother, however, told The Quint that she wasn't informed of the development.
"Police didn't tell me the charge sheet was filed. On 10 December, I went to court seeking a status report on the case. That's when I got to know that the charge sheet was filed. I got it only because I went to court. If I was sitting at home, I wouldn't have even known."Mother of teenager who died by suicide
She added that though her son had accused nine students of bullying and harassing him, the police have named only three of them in the case.
The 16-year-old died by suicide on 25 February and left behind a purported note in which he alleged that he was sexually assaulted and bullied by students in his school over his sexuality. In the note addressed to his mother, he had written:
"Dear mumma, you are the best mom on this planet. I am really sorry that I couldn’t be more brave. This school has killed me, specially the higher authorities."
'Want To Fight for LGBTQ+ Community'
On 29 October, the teenager's mother filed a petition at the Punjab and Haryana High Court, alleging police inaction and seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the case.
"I wanted to highlight the delay in the police investigation, and I also urged the court to hand the case over to the CBI. Most importantly, I wanted the court to issue guidelines to make schools safer for students from the LGBTQ+ community," she added.
The petition, which has been accessed by The Quint, stated:
"...laying down of appropriate guidelines so as to ensure the sensitization of the authorities... educational institutions in particular to take all necessary steps for prevention of harassment of individuals/students belonging to LGBTQIA+ community... and ensure the execution of the said guidelines..."
The high court is set to hear the petition on 19 January 2023.
The mother added, "I have been completely occupied in my fight for justice for my son. But I'm fighting not just for him, I want to create a safer space for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community."