Vasanthapiriya's Family Questions If An iPhone Was More Valuable Than Her Life
The Education Ministry has assured that there would be "no cover-ups".
Vasanthapiriya's death has left her family feeling devastated
Her aunt is inconsolable. Her father cannot bring himself to stop crying.
Vasanthapiriya's death, who passed away without regaining consciousness on the morning of 1 February following a suicide attempt after being accused of stealing her teacher's iPhone last month, has left her family members feeling devastated.
Bidding a painful goodbye during her funeral rites, their tears knew no bounds.
Recounting how she was a sensitive girl, the aunt feels her niece was humiliated by the theft accusations levelled against herself by her teacher.
According to her, it could have led to Vasanthapiriya taking her own life.
"Vasanthapiriya was ashamed and angry. She could not control her feelings. Maybe that is why she decided to end her life. The teacher should not have acted in such a way. Accusing a child, even hitting her. It is a smartphone.
"Phones can be bought anytime, but a human life? Once a person dies, she can never be brought back to life," her 43-year-old aunt was quoted as saying by NST Online.
According to her aunt, the teacher has already found her iPhone. "But will my sister get her child back?" she was quoted as saying.
The Malaysian Insight and NST Online in their reports, dated 1 and 2 February respectively, reported the aunt saying that the teacher has found her iPhone.
"Now, she has already found her phone, but what about the child?"
The Malaysian Insight, in its report, said that the girl's classmates told her family members that they saw the teacher with her phone a day after the incident.
"Teachers should educate, not threaten. If such a thing were to happen, they (teachers) should talk to us (parents) so that this can be solved amicably.
"Now, a child has died just over a phone," she told NST Online, adding that if all teachers were to act in such a manner, schools would be no place for children.
While her family members are trying to deal with the profound loss, a former teacher of Vasanthapiriya has spoken in defence of the girl
According to the teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, she never had any problems or disciplinary issues in school before the theft accusation.
"If they check her school records, there were no records of any disciplinary issues with her. She was just a timid girl who gets easily intimidated so perhaps what the teacher did, interrogating her in school for hours, then taking her home to talk to her parents, she must have felt humiliated," the teacher was quoted as saying by The Malay Mail Online at Vasanthapiriya's wake at her home in Kampung Tong Hai.
Meanwhile, police have completed their investigation under Section 309 of the Penal Code for attempted suicide and have forwarded their investigation papers to the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP)
"We are awaiting instruction from the DPP before proceeding.
"As for the investigation into the teacher concerned, we have also referred the matter to the DPP," Seberang Prai Selatan district police chief Superintendent Shafee Abd Samad was quoted as saying by NST Online.
However, Malaysian Tamilar Kural, a civil society group that has appointed a lawyer to push the authorities to expedite the investigation into Vasanthapiriya's case, are asking why the police have not yet revealed the progress of its investigation.
The group's president David Marshel was quoted by The Malaysian Insight, saying that the police must reveal the progress of the probe.
"The girl's uncle lodged a police report last Wednesday and the family was interviewed the next day for their statement.
"But until today, nobody knows the progress. Even reporters have said they could not reach the police chief for comments."
On the other hand, while the joint-probe by the Penang Education Department and the South Seberang Perai district education office (PPD) on the teacher has been completed, the teacher, who was transferred to a desk job at the PPD education office, is still there
There has not been any other action that has been taken against the teacher yet.
According to Penang Education Department deputy director Mohd Jamil Mohamed, the internal investigation papers would be passed to the Education Ministry along with recommendations for any action to be taken.
"The teacher is still at the PPD. The investigation process is complete. We have included our recommended action and this has been escalated to the ministry for follow-up," Jamil was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today (FMT).
In a separate report by NST Online, the Penang Education Department deputy director while extending condolences to Vasanthapiriya's family assured that a fair investigation has been done and concluded recently.
"In the report, we have included comments and suggestions to the ministry. We will wait for its response to our report," he told NST Online.
For what it's worth, Deputy Education Minister I P. Kamalanathan has assured the family that there would be "no cover-ups" with regards to the investigations into Vasanthapiriya's death
Kamalanathan has assured that the Education Ministry will offer its full cooperation to the police and that justice would be served.
"The tragic loss of life is something that haunts me. For someone so young to take such a dramatic step and end her life is heartbreaking. I would like to offer my heartfelt condolence to the family for this unimaginable tragedy," he told theSundaily.
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