On Teacher’s Day in 2019 he was honoured with the Siksha Ratna award by the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee but just a fortnight ahead of another Teacher’s Day, Sunil Kumar Das, retired headmaster of Kolkata’s David Hare School was found hanging from the ceiling at his residence in Memari here. He took his own life out of frustration over the non-payment of his pension for the past three years, his family members claimed today.
The Burdwan East district administration however was yet to get any complaint from the bereaved family about their grievances, the DM, Burdwan East, Priyanka Singla told The Statesman this evening. Das (63) served Hare School as the school’s headmaster for 20 years and retired in 2019. His family members found him hanging inside his son’s bedroom yesterday evening.
His son, a PhD student was not at home. Das, his family members said, was suffering from severe depression due to recurring financial crisis and had been frequenting Bikash Bhavan, the headquarters of the state education department over the period with the hope that the officials would help him in getting the pension.
But his requests always remained unheard, which depressed him further, the family said. Sadhana Das, the widow of the retired teacher alleged: “His death showed the state’s absolute apathy to the plight of retired teachers. The government ‘honours’ them in public functions but treats them as a dog after their superannuation from the services.
My husband used to knock on the doors of the offices every alternate month for the last three years but every time they used to say ‘wait for a few days more’. Such ruthless negligence drove my husband to take his own life. Sunil used to stay at his twostoreyed home at DebipurAlipur colony in Memari with his family.
Shankar Das, the deceased’s elder brother alleged: “Sunil received state award twice but the officials who had chosen him for the awards never bothered to checkhow the retired headmaster was struggling against poverty as his savings had nearly disappeared and his situation was reduced to hand to mouth.
He possessed a firm character due to which he refused to ever borrow from anyone.” The police brought down the retired teacher’s body from the first floor room and shifted it to the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital for postmortem.