Punjab: Parents of minor girls allege sexual assault by school staff

The parents alleged that Class IV employees of the school, including a gardener, some bus conductors and women caretakers are in connivance with each other and that girls from primary section are being “sexually assaulted”

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana | Updated: June 4, 2017 10:18:19 am
Punjab Sexual Assault, Punjab Minor Girl Sexual Assault, Punjab Sexual Attack School Staff, Punjab Rape, Punjab News, Indian Express, Indian Express News Picture for representational purpose.

In a collective protest, parents of some minor girl students at city’s premier school, Kundan Vidya Mandir in Civil Lines of Ludhiana, alleged that their children were “sexually assaulted and touched inappropriately” by the employees of the school. The parents alleged that Class IV employees of the school, including a gardener, some bus conductors and women caretakers are in connivance with each other and that girls from primary section are being “sexually assaulted”.

High drama ensued at the school campus after parents of a girl from LKG standard alleged she was sexually assaulted by a gardener. Soon, more parents joined the protest with similar allegations. Raising slogans against school authorities, parents alleged that school management was trying to hush up the matter. The parents also blocked the road in front of the school and demanded FIR against all the suspects being pointed out by the children. Some parents also lay themselves in front of principal’s office raising slogans. A police team led by ACP (North) Sachin Gupta arrived and later an FIR was filed against an unidentified suspects as per a written complaint submitted by parents. The police said the gardener identified as Naresh by one of the victims would be named in the FIR.

The parents, in their collective complaint to the police, stated, “We have come to know through our children that they are being inappropriately touched by some members of the school staff. At least 6-7 such cases have come to light. Despite our plea to management to take appropriate action, matter is being hushed up.”

Parents in their complaint also alleged that conductors of school buses were threatening some of them to take their complaint back. “Some conductors are telling parents to worry about their children who travel with them alone. They are harassing and threatening parents to take their complaint back.”

Parents alleged that all victim girls were from 3 to 6 years of age from primary classes. A parent said, “Nothing has happened with my child, but it can happen with anyone’s child. So we came here to protest and support parents whose children have been the victims. We cannot wait for this to happen with our children.” Another parent said, “The school cannot take such a serious matter lightly. The children who have been the victims have told their parents that how they were taken to washroom by female caretakers and then male employees touched them inappropriately. This has been going on for days.”

School principal Navita Puri said a gardener identified as Naresh was immediately suspended after parents of a girl from LKG came to her with complaint. She admitted that “an unfortunate incident happened” but said the school took immediate action. “We received a complaint from parents of a girl on Friday and the child pointed out a gardener. We immediately suspended him and filed a complaint with the police. Now, other parents are also alleging that their children were molested. Most of those coming here to protest are not parents of our students, but from associations who are trying to harass us,” said Puri.

Meanwhile, the ACP said parents of two girls had recorded their statements with them and an FIR had been registered at division number 4 police station. “Since parents did not mention anyone’s name in their complaint, we filed FIR against unidentified suspect. But now gardener has been identified as Naresh and his name will be nominated during further proceedings. He will be interrogated after arrest to know role of other staff members as alleged by parents. School has also submitted separate complaint against him,” said Gupta. The FIR has been registered under section 354-B (Assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe) of IPC and section 8 (sexual assault) of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO).

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