In the light of a series of high profile sexual offences against children and women occuring in Bangalore over the past few weeks the Bangalore police were on Monday exposed to a training workshop on handling cases involving sexual assaults on children and women.
Police officers above the rank of inspectors attended a refresher workshop on the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act, 2012 at the city police commissioner’s office on Monday. The workshop was organised jointly by the city police commissionerate and the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KCPCR) to educate the police about the POCSO act. The workshop was organised in the light of the Bangalore Police being subjected to adverse criticism by the public for its handling of the alleged rape of a six-year-old school girl at a private school in the city. Law experts from the National Law School of India University guided the police on handling sexual assault cases related to children during the workshop.
One of the concerns expressed by police officers in the course of the workshop was the shortage of police women in the city. Although the law prescribes that victims of rape or any kind of sexual assault must be handled by police women the lack of sufficient women in the police force prevents the law from being adhered to. If victims of sexual assault cases visit police stations at night there will be women staff on duty, some of the police officers complained during the workshop. The city police now proposes to set up a women’s unit in each police division to solve the problem.
Police commissioner M N Reddi who inaugurated the workshop said recent incidents of sexual assaults on children must serve as lessons to the police and the public on the handling of such cases. There is a need for an action plan to prevent sexual assaults on children, Reddi said.
Meanwhile, Vibgyor High, the elite school where a six-year-old child was sexually assaulted on July 2 re-opened on Monday after a break of 10 days. The school had closed down on July 18 following growing protests over the failure of the police and the school management in identifying the suspect who allegedly assaulted a first standard child during school hours on the school premises. A police complaint had been filed on July 14 by the parents of the child. On July 20 a skating instructor at the school was arrested by the police as the main suspect in the case. The chairman of the school was also arrested for trying to hush up the case but was later released on bail.
When the school reopened on Monday students of class five and above returned to the school. Children in the lower classes are expected to return once the school puts in place all safety measures prescribed by the police including CCTV cameras in the school premises and school buses. Vibgyor High has been given time till July 31 to comply with safety guidelines issued by the police while other schools in Bangalore have been given a August 31 deadline.
Police commissioner MN Reddi has said that it is mandatory for all schools in the city to follow the safety guidelines. Schools that fail to put in place safety measures will face legal action under section of the 188 of the Indian Penal Code as well as the Karnataka State Police Act, he said. As per the guidelines schools must recruit an enforcement officer to keep an eye on children outside the confines of classrooms, they must deploy CCTV cameras in the school and on school vehicles, the school vehicles must also have GPS systems.
The police have also ordered setting up of a task force comprising the management, parents and police. They have stated that drivers of school vehicles must not interact with students and that no entry should be given to outsiders to the sports facilities in schools including the pool area. All school vehicles have been mandated to employ women assistants to interact with children.