Ignoring the strike by bus operators, the police on Monday lodged an FIR against the bus contractor and the administrator of the Stepping Stones Senior Secondary School for “mishandling” the case of the alleged sexual assault on a five-year-old kindergarten student by a bus conductor earlier this month.
IG R P Upadhyay said the FIR had been registered at the Sector 39 police station under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
Assistant Superintendent of Police (South) Navdeep Singh Brar said, “We are investigating the matter. No arrest has been made yet.”
The commission had held that bus contractor Amrik Singh and school administrator Sanjiv Kumar had violated the POCSO Act by not reporting the incident to the police within 24 hours. The offence is punishable with imprisonment up to one year and a fine.
Parents of the minor girl had told the commission that neither Sanjiv Kumar nor Amrik Singh took any action in the matter for a week.
Earlier in the day, the Chandigarh School Bus Operators’ Welfare Association, which had given the call for the strike, claimed that the administration had assured them that no FIR would be registered against the bus contractor or the school administrator.
They claimed the assurance was given when association leaders and representatives of schools met Education Secretary Sarvjit Singh.
“We protested against the move to register an FIR against the bus contractor and the school administrator. The education secretary spoke to the advisor and assured us that no FIR will be registered. Hence, we decided that buses will operate from tomorrow,” said Nirmal Singh, association general secretary.
When told that an FIR had been lodged, he said, “We will call a meeting and take a decision.”
H S Mamik, president of Independent Schools Association, claimed that school administrators had nothing to do with buses which belonged to contractors.
Like Nirmal Singh, he also claimed that they were assured no FIR would be registered. “If the administration does not change its stand, then we will stop providing the bus facility to students,” Mamik said.
Already, the Stepping Stones Senior Secondary School has withdrawn the bus service, saying it cannot ensure security of children outside school. Also, it says that it cannot be held responsible for anything happening on a bus because the vehicles belong to a contractor, not to the school.
But parents argue that they pay bus charges to schools and, therefore, the schools cannot disown responsibility.