SEBERANG PERAI: The family of M Vasanthapiriya, who died following a suicide attempt after being accused of stealing a teacher’s iPhone, is calling for justice.
The 13-year-old died at 3.30am at the Seberang Jaya Hospital, slightly over a week after the incident.
Malaysian Tamilar Kural president David Marshel, speaking on behalf of the family, said the police and education ministry must issue an immediate statement on the case.
He said police had not given updates since a police report was lodged by Vasanthapiriya’s uncle last week.
“We want justice for the late Vasanthapiriya, who was accused of stealing the iPhone. Also, we do not want this to happen to other students.
“We wanted her to recover but unfortunately, she died.
“(Deputy Education Minister II) P Kamalanathan has promised to take action but until now there is nothing.
“We want to clear her name of this allegation,” he said, adding that there had been no update despite assurances from Penang police chief commissioner A Thaiveegan several days ago that the case would be investigated.
State Education Department deputy director Mohd Jamil Mohamed had also said that the teacher involved would carry out desk duties at the South Seberang Perai district education office while an internal probe is conducted.
David was speaking to reporters at the hospital mortuary here today. Also present were Vasanthapiriya’s family members.
Batu Kawan DAP secretary M Satees meanwhile questioned the police’s silence on the matter, calling it unacceptable.
“I don’t consider this a suicide but murder. She was pushed to a corner and emotionally bullied, to the extent that she took her own life.
“We take this issue seriously. Police should not delay but take immediate action.
“We will carry out this campaign for justice for Vasanthapiriya until the culprit is caught.”
Satees added that the case should be pursued as a criminal one, and that the criminal process must begin immediately.
He said a lawyer had already been engaged and had met with the family members.
A post-mortem is ongoing, with the funeral likely to be held tomorrow.
Based on the police report lodged by her uncle, Vasanthapiriya, a student of SMK Methodist in Nibong Tebal, was called in for questioning by three teachers at 2pm last Wednesday.
One of them, a woman in her 40s, accused her of stealing her iPhone 6, the report said.
After the teen denied stealing the handphone, another teacher allegedly hit her on the back in full view of other students.
She was then allegedly confined to a room in the teachers’ office quarters for nearly five hours, without any food or toilet break.
At 6.45pm, the husband of the teacher who lost her handphone arrived at the school. The couple threatened to take her to the police if she did not admit to the alleged theft, the report said.
They then drove Vasanthapiriya to her house nearby to meet her parents. The teen ran up to her room, while her parents and the accuser left home “to sort things out”, the report said.
It was then that Vasanthapiriya attempted to take her life. Upon returning home at 8.20pm, her father broke into her room after repeated calls went unanswered.
She was found unconscious but alive, hanging by her “dupatta” (shawl) off an air-conditioning piping, with her legs in contact with the floor.
She left a note saying, “I did not steal your phone, teacher.”