The class X student at Bal Niketan, whose complaint led to lodging of the sexual harassment case against dismissed supervisor Manish Kumar earlier this week, has alleged that her torment by way of forced hugs began two years ago, but she complained to Childline only after the supervisor one day lifted up her shirt.
“I went and told a friend, and she told me that he had been doing such things with other girls also. I asked her if I should tell secretary ma’m (honorary secretary Amar Kulwant Singh), she said that ma’m will ask for proof. So I called the Childline number,” said the girl.
After her complaint on April 2, a team from Childline visited Bal Niketan and met the girls. Six other girls then also complained of objectionable conduct by the supervisor.
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The main complainant, who is an orphan, said the supervisor started hugging her when she was in class VIII.
Although she felt uncomfortable, she neither protested nor complained. But the girls at the home talked about the supervisor’s behaviour among themselves.
She said that some time ago, some of the girls told “about this thing (molestation) to Manjeet ma’m (one of the wardens).
She said that we can use her phone to make videos. But we were scared. We also asked her how we could make a video when he was molesting us”, the complainant told Newsline.
The girl said that, a few years back, a resident had experienced an “unwanted incident’’ with the supervisor and complained to the honorary secretary, but she asked the girl to get proof. It was because no redress was available within the home that the girl called Childline.
Next, she informed her aunt who is her guardian, and also of her younger sister who, too, stays at Bal Niketan and studies in class VII. “My aunt said that I need not be afraid,” she said. After a few days, the complainant was taken ill and went to stay with her guardian. She is still there. Her younger sister was also taken away by the guardian after a few days.
The two girls, according to the guardian, are intelligent students and are keen on studying. The complainant said she wanted to study in the same school but did not want to stay at Bal Niketan.
Meanwhile, the Social Welfare Department of the UT Administration formally took over the home from the NGO Bal Niketan Society, and renamed it Children’s Home for Girls. The honorary secretary was made to hand over the charge and leave the home.
Some of the girls turned emotional and came up to the gate to see off the honorary secretary. Orders for take-over of
the home were passed two days back by the Deputy Commissioner.