The man in charge of a hostel for tribal girls in Solan was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly molesting the institute’s inmates for more than a year.
The nine victims — from the tribal district of Kinnaur in Himachal and Jharkhand — are students of classes VII to X at Government Secondary School, Salogra, 39 km southwest of Shimla.
A year ago, there were allegations of deaf girls being raped by teachers at another such institute near Shimla.
Acting on a complaint by a 13-year-old girl from Kinnaur, the police in Solan raided the hostel and arrested Pawan Goel (48), the alleged offender. Some girls from Jharkhand said the allegations were true. Goel was living in the complex.
The hostel, Adiwasi Balika Education Complex, is housed in a rented building. It is run by the Bharatiya Adim Jaati Sewak Sangh, a national voluntary organisation partly funded by the Centre.
The hostel, where poor tribal girls stay gratis, has generally 30 inmates at a time.
Solan police chief Prem Singh Thakur told HT: “We have recorded the statements of two girls from Jharkhand, while others have also made similar allegations.”
Thakur had raided the hostel with troopers from the women’s cell of the police.
The first complainant, a Class VII student, is from Kinnaur. She is being treated for depression at the Indira Gandhi Medical College hospital, Shimla.
The Umang Foundation, a public welfare trust headed by social activist Ajai Srivastava, came to know of the incident through sources and met her at the hospital. She complained about Goel’s alleged misconduct.
“He used to threaten the girls with dire consequences in case they told anyone (about the molestation),” the girl said.
On Monday, Srivastava took the complaint to Additional Director General of Police (Criminal Investigation Department) I.D. Bhandari. Then the police raid took place.