In a late night raid on Friday, police rescued 52 girl students from a madrasa in Lucknow Old City following allegations that they were sexual harassed and assaulted. The manager of the madrasa was arrested. The manager, Taiyab Zia Ashraf (38), was booked under Sections 376 (rape), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the IPC and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, said Bazar Khala police Circle Officer (CO) Anil Kumar Yadav. He was produced before a local court, which sent him to jail.
District Minority Welfare Officer Balendu Dwivedi said the madrasa, Jamia Khadijatul Kubra at Yaseenganj in Saadatganj area of Lucknow, is not registered with the UP Madrasa Education Board.
The girls, aged 5 to 24 years, belong to neighbouring districts, Bihar and Nepal. They underwent medical examination and the report is awaited. While the girls were sent to a women protection home, 10 of them later left for their homes with their families, police said.
SSP Deepak Kumar said that on Friday, a group of local residents visited him, claiming that the students had thrown slips from the terrace alleging that they were being harassed and sexually assaulted. Following this, a team comprising police, district administration and Child Welfare Committee officials visited the madarsa. Around 11 pm, the madrasa was raided and 52 girls were found staying in the three-storey building.
On the basis of the statement of five girls, the manager was arrested, the CO said. “They alleged that the manager used to molest them while asking them to massage his legs, hands and back.”
Initially, Taiyab was booked for molestation and assault and under POCSO Act, and the rape charge was added on Saturday evening. SP (West) Vikas Chandra Tripathi said: “An 18-year-old girl said on Saturday evening that the manager used to rape and assault her. Thus, the rape charge was added.”
Women Welfare Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi visited the women protection home. She said the girls had accused the manager of beating them, not providing proper meals and forcing them to do domestic jobs.
Taiyab claimed he was framed. He told mediapersons that the madrasa was started around 15 years ago and that Syed Mohammad Jilani Ashraf was its patron. “Jilani had been forcing me to leave the madrasa by levelling false allegations against me. Two days ago, Jilani, along with others, came to the madrasa and we had a spat,” he said.
“For the first six years, the madrasa admitted only boys, but later it started admitting only girls. Around 150 girls from different parts of the country stayed at the hostel, located in the same building. There are nine women teachers, who also stayed at the madrasa. Girls were not allowed to leave after 6 pm,” Taiyab said at Saadatganj police station.
When contacted, Jilani’s brother-in-law Syed Mohammad Ayub Ashraf, who lives near the madrasa, said: “Jilani had gone to the madrasa two days ago following a complaint that Taiyab was harassing the students. The family of a few students had met Jilani and complained.”
Ramesh Verma, who runs a medical store near the madrasa, said there was a dispute between Taiyab and Jilani over possession of the madrasa. “I never heard that girls at the madrasa were being harassed,” he said.
Kamal Hasan, a local resident, added: “No one in the locality was slips sent by students.”