Days after 66 girl students of Shree Sahjanand Girls Institute (SSGI) in Bhuj town of Kutch in Gujarat were allegedly made to strip to check if they were menstruating, police arrested the college principal and three others on Monday.
According to police, SSGI principal Rita Raninga (38), institute coordinator Anita Chauhan (49), girls’ hostel supervisor Ramila Hirani (29) and peon Naina Gorasia (40) were arrested by Bhuj A division police station team on Monday. The arrests were made after the police filed an FIR against them for the February 11 incident at the institute that caused public outrage.
“The four accused named in the FIR at Bhuj A division police station were arrested and the magistrate has given police remand till February 19,” said J N Panchal, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Bhuj Kutch, who heads the Special investigation Team (SIT) probing the matter.
The accused were booked under Indian Penal Code sections 384 (extortion), 355 (assault with intent to dishonour a person) and 506 (criminal intimidation), police said.
On February 13, a group of undergraduate students of SSGI and their parents approached the media and complained that the management of the institute ordered 68 of them to go out of a classroom, sit in a passage on the suspicion that students were violating the institute’s rules for women students during their menstrual period. While two of the students said that they were menstruating, the authorities allegedly forced the remaining 66 to go to a washroom one after another and strip to ascertain if they were menstruating or not. The students alleged that the incident took place on February 11.
Darshana Dholakia, incharge Vice-Chancellor of the university to which the college is affiliated, had earlier said the girls were checked because the hostel has a rule that girls having periods are not supposed to take meals with other inmates. The hostel authorities decided to check them after they came to know that some menstruating girls had broken the rule and taken the meal.
A seven-member team of the National Commission for Women (NCW) on Sunday met the girl inmates of the hostel.
SSGI, a self-financed college having its own girls’ hostel, is run by a trust of the Swaminarayan Temple and is affiliated to the Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Verma Kutch University. The college offers undergraduate courses in arts, science and commerce as well as certificate courses in computer, fashion designing, spoken English, beauty care, etc.
Meanwhile, the Gujarat Mahila Manch on Monday demanded the immediate removal of the warden of the Bhuj hostel and strict police action against those responsible for allegedly forcing students to remove their clothes to check if they were menstruating.
“The incident clearly violates the basic rights of the young women and as per the law it outrages the modesty of the young women, causing them mental trauma and amounts to sexual harassment. While multiple activist groups are fighting against the taboo attached to menstruation, such incidents again reinforce the redundant and unscientific idea of women being dirty while they menstruate… The act violates the fundamental duties under article 51 A of the Indian Constitution,” the group said in a statement.
The statement was issued by 1,291 women, including activists Manjula Pradeep, Persis Ginwalla, Nirjhari Sinha and Mallika Sarabhai. Demanding strict action against those responsible for the act, the group said, “We, as Gujarat Mahila Manch, condemn this act and demand strict action against the incident and demand the following: Ensuring immediate action on the FIR under section 354, 509 and 355 of the Indian Penal Code against all those involved in the incident, 2. Removal of the warden with immediate effect and action on all those who made statements justifying the act 3. Counseling sessions for the young women who have been traumatised by the incident.”
(With PTI inputs)
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