Computer teacher held for molesting 14 girl students
Turbhe police arrested a teacher who had been working at a municipal school, for allegedly molesting at least 14 minor girls, over the past two months. Lochan Parulekar,31, has been arrested under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act and remanded in police custody till March 2.
Parulekar was hired through a private trust to teach computers at a municipal school in Navi Mumbai. According to the complainants, he taught students from class six to class eight. Under the pretext of practical and additional classes, Parulekar would allegedly single out minor girls and molest them. One complainant told the police that Parulekar had told her she would get good grades if she attended his additional classes, and asked her to meet him for the same on February 12, when the rest of the school was to go on a picnic. Parulekar conducted these classes after regular school hours and has allegedly molested at least 14 girls, aged between 11 and 14.
“Initially, the girls were worried of not being believed by teachers or an unpleasant reaction from the accused, so they kept quiet. Finally one of the girls confided in another teacher about the sexual abuse,” said a police officer on condition of anonymity.
The teacher then alerted the principal of the school. The benefactor of the trust through which Parulekar was hired, was also informed. Parulekar’s contract was suspended and on Tuesday, a complaint was filed against him.
“We received the complaint on Tuesday and have registered a case under the Pocso Act against the accused. He was placed under arrest the same day. After producing him in court, the accused has been remanded in police custody till March 2,” said Pankaj Dahane, deputy commissioner of police, zone 1. A case under section 9 (aggravated sexual assault) have also been registered against the accused.
Turbhe police have recorded statements of the minor complainants and said they will also speak to other students, and encourage them to speak up if they were targeted by Parulekar.
Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) education officer and deputy municipal commissioner, Nitin Kale, clarified that Parulekar had not been hired by the NMMC directly and was on contract through a private trust. “The issue is very disturbing and henceforth we will ensure no teachers are hired under corporate social responsibility (CSR) [schemes]. Even if the need arises, it should only be a female teacher,” said Kale. He further added that NMMC would make character certificates and police verification mandatory for all new hires, irrespective of gender. Closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras would also be installed in schools. “We will not compromise on safety and security of the students,” said Kale.
(Inputs from Padmja Sinha)