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Investigations into the suicide of a 14-year-old schoolboy in Bengaluru last week have revealed that he had been bullied by a schoolmate who travelled with him in a private school van. Police are, however, yet to initiate legal proceedings in the case since the boy involved in the bullying is a minor, said sources familiar with the investigations by the J P Nagar police in south Bengaluru.
Raunak Banerjee, who read in class IX at Baldwin Boys School, returned from school on June 29, went to the terrace above the 10th floor of his apartment block and jumped to his death.
“We have found that it was another schoolboy in the van who had harassed him. The boy also mentioned this in a note found in his school bag. Since it involves another minor child, we are approaching the case cautiously and gave not initiated legal steps yet,” a police officer said.
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When Raunak’s mother Rumi Banerjee returned home that evening, she found the house locked. “I rang the doorbell, no one opened. I thought he was delayed, I thought he must have got stuck in the rain. I entered the house and went to the washroom. My neighbour then called on the phone and said your son is lying on the ground. I rushed there and he was in a pool of blood,” she said Wednesday.
“We are in a state of shock. My husband has been deeply affected and we don’t want to talk to anybody,” she added.
The boy’s father has gone into a shell and has not been answering phone calls, even from the police. Raunak was the younger of two siblings.
According to the police, the bullying by the other schoolboy involved taunts, which is not unusual among teenagers but which affected the sensitive child deeply. “He was humiliated in front of other students, it seems,” a police source said. “Had it been reported, it was a problem that could have been resolved by changing the mode of transport from school.”
The principal of the 136-year-old Baldwin Boys School, Dinakar Wilson, said Raunak had “not discussed the bullying with anyone. We could have sorted it out. We have a counsellor in the school to address the problems of students… The incident took place in the van hired from a private agency. It used to carry 20 students from the Baldwin boys’ and girls’ schools.”
Following the student’s death, the J P Nagar police registered a case of abetment of suicide under IPC section 306 based on Raunak’s note found in his school bag. “We need to complete procedures such as handwriting verification before taking the case forward. The matter is still under investigation,” an official said.
“We have almost zeroed in on who was involved in the bullying. We cannot disclose what exactly happened because it involves boys who are minors. We will proceed with the case under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015,” said deputy commissioner of police (south) S D Sharanappa.
Following Raunak’s death, a relative of the schoolboy, Dyuti Banerjee, has launched an online petition demanding to an anti-bullying drive in schools in Karnataka. “In the most shocking and unbelievable incident, my brother Raunak Banerjee lost his life on 29th June, 2016, when *bullying* turned fatal! He was the most soft hearted, good natured, teen of 14years! He was harassed n tortured to such an extent that ending his life was the only option he could think of. He mentioned in his suicide note that he couldn’t take it anymore and was terribly bullied by a group of boys,” she posted.
Friends and family of the student have said authorities of Baldwin Boys High School and the police are not keen to get the students involved in the bullying prosecuted. “I think they want the trail to go cold. Seems that the principal did not know Raunak’s name. Also, very strange that no one visited the bereaved parents from the school,” Kirti Poddar, a close friend of the family, wrote on his Facebook page.