With more and more cases of sexual assault on children getting reported from schools, the State Government is under fire. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Home Minister K J George expressed their helplessness on Friday (October 31, 2014), and requested for the cooperation of the managements in private schools and the public in helping the government in reducing such incidents.
Home Minister K J George went on to say that sexual assault on students in private schools cannot be stopped by the government, as it was practically not possible for the police to visit each and every school and protect children. School management and staff have to be vigilant, follow the government guidelines and take necessary precautions, he said, adding that strict legal action would be taken against the culprits in any such case, without favouring anyone.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah too voiced the same opinion, stressing on the responsibility of school managements in following safety guidelines and protecting children.
These statements come a day after an alleged rape incident was reported from a private school in Indira Nagar. A six-year-old girl student was allegedly raped by a teacher in the school on October 28th and 29th. The child’s parents filed a complaint with the police yesterday after getting the medical examination done. The child identified the alleged rapist, and the police have already detained him for further inquiry.
‘Not enough BEOs’
Commissioner of Public Instruction, Mohammad Mohsin told media that the concerned Block Education Officer (BEO) of the area, Ramesh has been asked to look into the case and take appropriate action on the school management for non-compliance of rules.
Mohsin also threw light on a serious problem: Bangalore has 6,000 schools, but the Education Department has only nine BEOs, as a result of which monitoring was becoming a problem. He said there would be a fresh discussion today with the Chief Minister, regarding schools not following the government guidelines.
‘School not accessible’
Ramesh, Block Education Officer of the area, talking to the media, said that he was not able to reach the school management, as all the telephone numbers of the school authorities have been switched off. He has therefore not been able to inspect the documents related to the school.
He also said that the school has 39 rooms, four CCTV cameras and nine blocks. The Education Department has not been able to check the CCTV monitoring system, as the room was locked. He added that a school of this size would need atleast 30-35 CCTV cameras, but had only four.
‘We assure cooperation’
While the school authorities were unreachable to the police and the government, they have issued a press note to the media late on Thursday night. The press note claims that the school is in compliance with the rules mentioned in the circulars issued by the Commissioner of Police, Bangalore.
The press note states, “This day at 10.55 am, we have been informed by one of the parents whose child studies in the school in Class I, to say that their child has been sexually abused. We have immediately taken steps to enquire into the complaint and also requested the parents to have a medical examination done for the child. Our school has provided all information as required by the jurisdictional police, to assist in the investigation.”
“Our educational institution is absolutely non-tolerant towards such inhuman conduct. We would like to extend our support to the relevant authorities to bring justice to the child and her family and the culprit to be severely punished. We are deeply hurt by the news… and would like this episode to be concluded at the earliest,” said the note, declaring that the school will remain closed on October 31st, to aid smooth investigation.
The school claims that the teacher in question has been suspended, and has promised full cooperation during the entire process of investigation. They have also promised to stand by the family of the aggrieved student.
Television reports showed political parties seizing the opportunity to protest. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists were seen holding placards and protesting. BJP MLA from C V Raman Nagar, S Raghu was seen protesting along with party workers.
Meanwhile, citizens have called for a peaceful protest in Freedom Park on Sunday. Many e-groups such as Bangalore Schools and The Vigilant Citizen are in the process of deciding how to deal with the situation positively.
This case comes after a similar case in North Bangalore. The Jalahalli school, where a case of molestation was reported, had permission to run only a Kannada-medium school. However, it actually ran an English-medium school, and did not follow the safety guidelines issued by the government and the police. The school is now under the government scanner.
The police have also filed chargesheet in case of the upscale Marathahalli school where a rape was reported in July, in which they have charged the school management too. Now with many more schools not adhering to guidelines and increasing incidents of rape getting reported, the government is obliged to act strictly against schools that do not fall in line.