The state human rights commission (SHRC) has taken suo motu cognisance of the alleged rape of two Buldhana tribal boarding school girls and sent a notice to the state’s tribal development department seeking a detailed report of the incident. In the notice, SHRC has asked the government how such an incident could take place in a government-aided school. The notice was sent to the tribal development commissionerate, confirmed an official from the SHRC. He said the SHRC took cognisance of news reports . The copies of these reports were also enclosed with the notice.
The tribal development commissionerate has also suspended two officials, including the extension officer and assistant project officer from Akola.
State women’s commission officials, who visited the school last week, found the 105 girl students were crammed into one hall in the school’s hostel and slept on the floor with no beds. The school also did not have an attached toilet block.
Vijaya Rahatkar, chairperson for the Maharashtra state commission for women (MSCW), who visited the school last week, told HT, “I was shocked to see the school had 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.’’
“It seems that the number of students shown by the school management was less than the actual number. This is an old practice adopted by school management to get more grants in the name of fake students,’” she said.
The registration of the school was cancelled last week following allegations that a 10-year-old girl was raped in the school 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 police arrested 15 staff members, including a sweeper, who is the main accused. The special investigation team (SIT) probing the case has started questioning the girls.
Asha Mirge, former member of MSCW, who visited boarding school to meet the girls, claimed one of the students confided in her that the main accused would try to bribe them with good food to go through the ordeal and that complaints against the accused made to the headmaster fell on deaf ears. “One of the girl students taken in police custody for questioning confided to me that the main accused (sweeper) used to lure students with good food. He (main accused) used to tell them that they will be given good food if he was allowed to do whatever he wanted,” she told HT.
Sanjay Baviskar, superintendent of police (SP), Buldhana, said, “We are first questioning the four girls and the rest will also be called. These are those whose parents had come forward suspecting that their children were also sexually assaulted at the boarding school,” Baviskar told HT.
Rahatkar said toilets meant for students in the school premises were in very bad condition and endangered the girls’ safety . “They were too dirty to use. Moreover, none of them had door latches,” she said.
State tribal development commissioner Rajiv Jadhav said, “One extension officer responsible for inspecting the boarding school at regular intervals to check implementation of rules and regulations in terms of providing basic amenities and one assistant project officer, who was supposed to oversee education-related facilities were suspended.”