When the parents of a seven-year-old girl, who faced a brutal sexual assault on her school campus, confronted the authorities there, they met with an inhuman denial.
The minor girl, a student of the north corporation-run Nigam Pratibha Vidyalaya, was allegedly sexually assaulted by an unknown person inside a classroom on Thursday. However, the family alleged that the school management insulted them when they went to report their daughter's ordeal.
"Since the horrific incident had occurred in the school premises where entry of outsiders during school hours is not allowed, we suspected the involvement of a male staff of the school. We requested them to help us in identifying the culprits but they became rude and accused us for cooking up a story. They even refused to admit that our daughter was sexually assaulted in the school premises," said the victim's uncle.
The North Corporation has ordered an inquiry into the incident.
Even though police have registered a case of sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the family of the girl believe that the accused, who is yet to be identified and apprehended, might not get harsher punishment as police did not added rape charges.
Senior police officers as well as some legal experts, however, said as per the POCSO Act and the newly-passed ordinance, the accused will get the harshest of punishments equivalent to that given to rape accused.
"If sexual assault is perpetrated on a child below 12 years of age, harsher punishment can be given to the accused. Police have to use appropriate sections of the POCSO Act. And if there is a provision of a harsher punishment in the ordinance passed by Centre, then it could also be invoked," said Bharti Ali, from NGO Haq: Centre for Child Rights.
"In this particular case, police have to take action under the newly-passed ordinance on sexual assault under which the accused is given the harshest of punishment. The principal who was responsible for the child's safety and should also be arrested," Ranjana Kumari, women's rights activist, told HT.