Buldhana tribal school lacked basic facilities: State women’s panel chief
With the Buldhana tribal boarding school under scanner over the rape of two minor girl students, several shocking allegations are now coming to the fore on the condition of the government-aided institution.mumbai Updated: Nov 08, 2016 16:23 IST
Chairperson of the Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW), who visited the tribal boarding school in Buldhana district under the scanner for the rape of two minor girl students, has said the government-aided institution did not have the proper infrastructure such as beds and clean toilets.
The 105 girls staying in the hostel of the Nimbaji Kokre Ashramshala in Hiwarkhed village near Khamgaon were all crammed into one hall and they slept on the floor as no beds were available in the school.
“I was shocked to see the school as it has no basic facilities for students. A hall that was used as sleeping quarters for girl students was too small to accommodate 105 girls. Also, there was no toilet attached to it,’’ Vijaya Rahatkar, who visited the school last week, told HT.
“It seems that the number of students shown by the school management on paper was more than the actual number of students. This is an old practice adopted by school managements to get more grants in the name of fake students,’’ she added.
The two tribal students of the school have lodged a complaint against its management and staff for sexual abuse. The state government closed down the ashramshala and all the teaching and non-teaching staff were suspended.
As many as 15 staff members, including prime accused Ittusingh Pawar, of the school were arrested for the rape of a 10-year-old and another student. As many as 17 people were booked in connection with the crime. Two of them, headmaster Bharat Lahudkar and a Vijay Ramuji Kokre, are still missing.
Rahatkar said that students’ toilets on the school premises were in a very bad condition and endangered the safety of the girls.
“They were too dirty to use. Moreover, none of them had door latches,” she said.
Asha Mirge, a former member of MSCW who also visited the school, claimed that one of the students confided in her that the main accused used to bribe them with good food to go through the ordeal. They had complained to the headmaster about it but to no avail, Mirge said.
“One of the girls, who taken in the police custody for questioning, told me that the main accused (sweeper) used to lure students with good food. He used to tell them that they will be given good food if he was allowed to do whatever he wanted,” she told HT.
The State Human Rights Commission, meanwhile, has taken suo moto cognisance of the case and sent a notice to the tribal development department, tribal commissionerate, asking how such an incident can take place in a government-aided tribal boarding school.
“The commission has sought the government’s reply in four weeks,” SHRC chairperson SR Bannurmath said.
The Buldhana police have registered a second FIR in the case after another girl from the same school came forward with a sexual assault complaint.
The incident came to light when the girl went home for Diwali and complained of stomach ache to her parents, who informed the local village leader. Their complaint was then taken up by the police. The state government has formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the case, fearing that several more students may have been sexually abused.
The SIT probing the case will talk to all the girls studying in the school. Sanjay Baviskar, superintendent of police (SP) Buldhana said that the questioning has started.
“We are first questioning the four girls who had come forward. The rest will be also be called for the same,” he said.
The 400-odd students will be accommodated at the neighbouring tribal boarding schools so their education does not suffer.
There are more than 1,000 residential schools called “ashramshalas” (tribal boarding schools) that are run either directly by the state government or by trusts supported by the government. Around 4.45-lakh students study in these primary and secondary school, of which 2 lakh are girls.