A Meghalaya teacher has been accused of raping a schoolgirl after blackmailing her for a year with videos of forcibly kissing, hugging and groping her.
The teacher also used the videos to blackmail one of the girl’s classmates besides stalking six other students, a police complaint filed by two Shillong-based NGOs said.
The complaint follows two high-profile cases of rape and molestation in Meghalaya that had a few heads rolling.
On January 7, rebel-turned-independent MLA Julius Kitbok Dorphang was arrested for allegedly raping a 14-year-girl twice in a Shillong guesthouse run by Meghalaya home minister HDR Lyngdoh’s son. On January 26, V Shanmuganathan quit as Meghalaya governor after a Raj Bhavan job applicant accused him of molesting her.
A case was registered against Konesshon Rodbom, a teacher at the Tlong Umiam Secondary School in Sohiong village, on Saturday after the NGOs – Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO) and Thma-U-Rangli-Juki – filed the complaint through the central police station in Shillong.
Sohiong, about 25km from Shillong, lends its name to an assembly constituency that HDR Lyngdoh represents.
“The teacher began stalking the schoolgirl a year ago when she was 18, taking videos of himself forcibly kissing, hugging and molesting her on the school premises. He has been using the videos to blackmail and threaten her,” the complaint said.
According to the FIR, the teacher confronted the girl on January 20 when she went to school for her exam and threatened to show the videos to the head of the school and other villagers if she did not have sex with him.
“She relented out of fear and around noon on January 20 he took her to the room of another teacher who stays on the school premises. After the act, he gave the girl his mobile phone and said she could now delete the videos,” CSWO’s Agnes Kharshiing told HT from Shillong on Monday.
“From the accounts of several students of the school, some minors, the teacher appears to be a predator picking on girls unaware of what was happening to them,” Kharshiing said.
Police said they were on hunting for the teacher who could not be located at his address.
Another 17-year-old girl of the school told women’s rights activists that the teacher was in the habit of giving good marks to the girls on his radar before making advances. He would make the girls who avoided him pay.
“This girl, a year junior to the one who was raped, was similarly stalked and intimidated by the teacher on several occasions. He asked her to kiss him and demanded sexual favours, amounting to attempt to rape, since July 2016 with a threat that if she refused, he would ensure that she did not get through her examinations,” the complaint said.
The girl was allegedly not allowed to sit for the exams after avoiding the teacher.
The NGOs sought action against the teacher under the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2012 and the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2013 for the crimes of rape, attempt to rape, stalking, voyeurism, use of his position of power and authority, threat and intimidation.
Meanwhile, political parties and NGOs have demanded that Lyngdoh be sacked as home minister and Dorphang, the rape-accused MLA, be dropped as chairman of the Meghalaya Khadi and Village Industries Board.
Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma and state Congress president DD Lapang have also invited criticism for saying Dorphang was innocent until proven guilty of raping a minor. Dorphang was arrested under POCSO Act, which does not presume an accused to be innocent.
Though Sangma has refused to drop Lyngdoh, the police found fresh evidence of his son’s guesthouse having been used as a den for sexual activities. Investigations revealed that at least five sex workers were frequent visitors to the guesthouse.