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A group of parents of an international school in Andheri have expressed fears over sending their kids to school, after its founding trustee facing charges of sexually harassing a three-year-old rejoined the school after his release on bail. In reply to the letter of one of the parents, the trustee has in fact compared his stay in prison to that of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela and suggested parents to tell their children that he was wrongly accused.
While parents in their letter mentioned kids talking about his jail stay, the trustee in his reply stated: “Imagine young Indian minds being terrorised at the thought of meeting Mahatma Gandhi knowing that he had been in custody, imagine the plight of the young South African minds terrorised when being told about Nelson Mandela’s years in jail. Imagine the young minds in school, amused at the fact that the trustee was in jail.” The school is defending the trustee stating that the 57-year-old would not have done it and it has not been proved yet.
A group of parents objected to the trustee rejoining the school and some of them have written to the school administration expressing their fears. The trustee suggested parents to tell their wards that he was wrongly accused. He states in his letter: “Tell them that trustee sir was remanded to judicial custody for being wrongly accused of an action he has been fighting against for decades.” Parents, however, said he is just out on bail and has not been acquitted of the charges. “Our kids know he was in jail. It has become a point of discussion among older kids on what he did. Besides he was accused of sexual harassment, and we are not comfortable with him being around our kids. He is still not acquitted in the case,” said one of the parents.
Another parent said, “Why should we lie to our kids? Why should we tell our kids that the trustee was wrongly accused? He is just out on bail but is still an accused. What if he is convicted?” On May 7, 2017 parents of a three-year-old girl had approached MIDC police station alleging the founder trustee of the school had sexually abused her in his office. The victim’s mother, in her statement to police, said the abuse deeply affected her daughter, and her behaviour changed. After several months of asking her the reason for her increasing aloofness, the victim told her parents about the alleged sexual harassment.
The parents took her to a doctor, and a medical examination detected injuries in her private parts, after which the parents approached police to file
an FIR. The trustee was arrested in November 2017 and granted bail in December 2017 following which he rejoined the school.
Some of the parents have decided to move the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR). “After what he was accused of, we are not comfortable with him coming to the campus, close to our kids. We want to challenge this at the child rights commission,” said one parent. Meanwhile, former journalist and lawyer S Balakrishnan has filed a petition in the child rights commission on behalf of a group of parents. He said, “It is a sensitive case. The scene of crime is on campus and he is an accused hence he should be restrained from entering the campus. Being out on bail doesn’t mean he isn’t accused in the case anymore. Until the final verdict is out, he should not be allowed to enter the school premises.”