The Hush Post: Here is another victim of Harold Carver, the former Principal of St Stephen’s School Chandigarh. The first victim to speak up was a Shimla boy Sanjay Austa. Sanjay was at St Stephen’s in the year 1989-90. However, the stories of sexual assault began at the St Stephen’s School, Chandigarh almost right since the inception of the school.
Apart from Sanjay, Manraj Singh and Navin Chettri have also shared their account of Harold Carver’s sexual assault on them. Chhetri was a brilliant footballer and everybody in the school tried to dribble like him on the fields but failed miserably. Chhetri was among the boys (aged merely 10-14 years) who had gone to court in an effort to get justice for the horrific sexual abuse by Carver. But Carver was soon reinstated and Navin along with other abused children had to leave school (St. Stephen’s School, Chandigarh). And even before Sanjay’s or Chhetri’s story is that of one Manraj Singh.
Here is the account of Manraj Singh who had to suffer sexual assault of Carver. Manraj, now 47, was part of the first-batch of the school back in the 80s. His account also proves that there was tacit involvement of others as well.
Manraj Singh : (as posted on his Facebook timeline)
This is a personal story in support of the #MeToo movement in India, and especially Chandigarh, and even more especially towards this one person who in my mind, is the classic definition of an abuser. Thank you to Sanjay Austa for reviving the story from the 80s, and I hope this time justice is done. And the only way justice can be done is for Mr Carver to admit to and apologise and spend the rest of his life away from active society.
Disclaimer: I was a “day scholar”, and not part of the hostel. However, the stories I heard from the hostel friends I had, were far more horrific. Because I am not in touch with them anymore, I will not introduce that as a point of contention. Just know that the atmosphere at that time made it so obvious what this “Saint’s” intentions were from the get to.
Also, this isn’t a diatribe on Mr Carver. He was a big teaching influence on me and several others around me, and I learnt a lot from him. However, this is about him being portrayed as a saint, while he, in my mind, was clearly a sexual predator. I might have kept quiet if he would have just gone away quietly. But that’s the thing with him. He won’t ever let go of the mentality that he was the “victim”. This is classical predator trap. Make others think they were wrong, while he was the one who was wrong.
I was in 7th grade (I think. It could have been a few months here or there. You must remember that most of these memories have been blocked out).
He called me into his office out of the blue. This was during an active school session in the middle of the day. His Secretary/Man-Friday was there as well. I won’t name the person because I don’t know his true involvement.
I walk in and he asks me to shut the door behind me. His first statement to me was:
“I have our Transfer Certificate (TC), right here (he pointed to below his desk), and unless you tell me the complete truth, you are out of here.”
I came from a very modest background where my mother raised three kids on a very-very basic income. Going to St. Stephen’s was the best thing that had happened to me till then, and everyone in my family was so proud of me.
I instantly starting freaking out and tears starting welling up in my eyes at this threat, from a person that I had truly admired and looked up to. My only concern was not to get expelled. And I didn’t even know what this was all about??
So many thoughts started running through my head about what I did wrong. And when you are child at12-13, you have no idea how the world works.
“I know what you’ve done.” That was his next statement. And it scared the shit out of me. I was just trying to be a good student and had never done anything remotely bad in my life up to that point. But that’s what caused me more anxiety. I started thinking of little things like lying to the teacher about why I couldn’t complete my homework, or typical things kid lie about when in school.
So I started rattling of these seemingly minor things, and he kept shaking his head.
And then it occurred to me. The “worst” thing I had ever done in my life (from my child mind’s perspective) was to have dirty talks and sometimes talk about masturbation and stuff with my cousin who was the same age as me. I thought, this must be the most evil thing in the world, and somehow Mr Carver knew about it, because he is so smart and such a great person.
So, finally, after exhausting all the options, I said that I had seen my cousin’s penis.
This is all he needed.
You must understand that these simple explorations is so common amongst boys and it isn’t even sexual. It is just curiosity.
Then a whole series of questions began from him:
“What all did you do with him?” Any answer that wasn’t sexual wasn’t acceptable to him.
“What do you call “it” in Punjabi?” Referring to the penis
“Did you put it in your m***h? Did he?”
I was clueless sexually, but I was kinda aware of what answers he wanted. I figured that he only wanted to talk to about the sexual stuff.
So to please him, I started making up stuff, and kept answering yes to everything he said. I didn’t want to be expelled and shatter the dreams of my poor single mom who had worked so hard to raise us three kids.
Then he asked “How do you know about all this? Do you have dirty magazines and books at home?”
I knew the answer to that one. Of course.
“My sister reads these books”.
I saw a spark in his eyes. They almost lit up. He immediately shook his head “Tsk Tsk…your sister? That is so bad!”. And then he asked me to collect all the “bad” books and come to his place (in Sector 10), that evening. On my bicycle.
Now you just know that my sister is 12 years elder to me. And what I thought of as “dirty” books were really “Mills and Boons”!. If you guys know about what Mills and Boons is, then you must know that they are simple romantic novels, with virtually zero sexuality in them. The only thing is that the book covers had sketch art of a man and woman holding hands or about to kiss. Nothing more. And for me, that was “dirty” at that age.
So anyway, that evening I collected every Mills and Boons book she had, put it in a backpack, and cycled my way to his house.
I remember his house so clearly, though I had been there only a couple of times. He met me on the terrace (first floor), and asked me if I got all the “dirty” books. I said yes, and he asked me to show some of those to him, on the terrace itself. I pulled out 2-3 books and handed them to him. He seemed to shake his head, almost disappointed at the romantic normal crap that I was showing him instead of something more sexual.
Then he invited me in and asked me to sit on the couch. He took control of the backpack and starting digging through it.
At this point, these three people were not only present in the house, but were freely walking about close to us and hearing everything was going on. All these three people very very closely involved with the school. These three people were Mr P****** S********, Ms R***** and the venerable Mrs S*********. I will not name them here because they did not have any direct contact or conversation with me about this.
Mr Carver kept asking me all sorts of sexual questions (the details don’t matter for this purpose). What matters is that he took a boy of 12-13, exercised his control over his future and got him to a point of almost having a sexual act with him till I wised up and got the fuck out of there.
I recall when after I had just graduated from the school, my brother asked me if I can put in a kind word for his son, to get him into St. Stephen’s. Normally, I know that if I had spoken to Mr Carver, he would have gotten him into the school (he was very loyal in that sort of way). But I knew better. I fought with my brother insisting that the school isn’t as good as he thinks and that my nephew would be better off in another competing school. It is because I knew what this Saint was up to.
Remember, that I was a day scholar. And most of the people I hung out with were day scholars. Carver typically preyed more on the hostellers, so my immediate friends didn’t have many stories, but the ones in the hostel had many more.
I still remember the scene where Mr Errol Rodrigues and a reporter (Mr Prashar – sorry, don’t remember his first name) from the Tribune showed up at my home (when the story broke out in the late 80s), and I remember sitting in the car with them. They were asking me to go public with this and I was shit scared, so I said no.
I remember the disappointed look on Mr Rodrigues face. Now I know that was the face of a man who had seen it all, and just couldn’t find enough support.
To this day, I wish I had pursued this with Mr Rodrigues at that point. I don’t regret not doing it – because I was a frigging teenager. Fear is a big fact at that age
But, I do apologise to Mr Rodrigues, because he was trying to do the right thing, but I was a scared child who couldn’t go through with it.
My parents and family didn’t even know. I was too ashamed to share that with anyone.
I won’t name the victims, but I will in private, if it comes to that. Only because I don’t want to drag the names of other people I know got abused, because I don’t want to disrupt there lives.
But stories of hostellers being abused were like daily gossip around our circle of kids. You believe it or not, isn’t the point. The point is all those things happened.
And at least today scholars, who were my close friends, suddenly leaving school in the final year. Who does that? Unfortunately one of those friends died in an accident recently and the other one I’m not in touch with anymore. They were victims of the Carver Doctrine and the influence Mr Carver had on the entire city, made them leave school rather than fight him.
But this isn’t about trying to put Mr Carver in jail. What’s the point of doing that to an 80 something year old person?
The point is for people to realize that he wasn’t a saint. Yes, he was a great teacher. I learnt a lot from him, and I have admiration for that. But he is also pedophile. Pure and simple. He is a serial pedophile who would profile his targets for months before he would move in. And he did it for years, if not decades. He had a certain “type”, but that’s a story for another day.
Also, he had an entire team behind him. He wasn’t alone in acting. I won’t name those names publicly, but he ran his pedophile ring almost as a business. There were layers of people around him to identify, entice and protect him from any negative implications. That’s what a mafia don does. He ran the school as a Don (which was a good thing from an academic perspective), but he also ran his pedophile ring as a Don as well.
As much as corporal punishment was “in vogue” in the 80s in India, Mr Carver never missed an opportunity to pull out his cane or his hand. That’s a whole different form of abuse that isn’t part of this post, but he was clearly, for all to see, almost gleeful in giving our physical punishments.
And to anyone who’s going to look at this and start rattling off his list of achievements, please do understand that people are complex. They have many different aspects to them that can interplay with each other. This is not an indictment of him as a human being. This is an indictment of the culture and society that we grow up in where a person can either be black or white.
Mr Carver has very admirable qualities to him.
Mr Carver is also a child sexual predator.
PS: I haven’t logged into Facebook for the past few years, and I don’t intend to in the future. So any comments left here will not be read by me. I’m sharing this story for the larger world to see.