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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

Andheri school rape case: 2 months on, psychiatrists complain about slow probe

Mumbai city news: The accused, a school trustee, had gone to Paris as part of a school trip. However, he has not returned yet, though the trip has ended

mumbai Updated: Jul 17, 2017 23:32 IST
Puja Pednekar
Puja Pednekar
Hindustan Times
Psychiatrists have demaned that action be taken against another teacher accused in the case.
Psychiatrists have demaned that action be taken against another teacher accused in the case.(HT File Photo)

Two months after a three-year-old was allegedly raped in an Andheri school, Mumbai psychiatrists have written to the Maharashtra child rights panel to complain about the slow pace of investigations.

The accused, a 57-year-old school trustee from France, had gone to Paris as part of a school trip. The police said he has returned to India and they have recorded his statement, but they have not arrested him. Psychiatrists have demanded that action be taken against the trustee and another teacher accused in the case.

On May 18, the girl’s mother asked the police to file a case of rape under section 376 (2) of the Indian Penal Code and sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act against the trustee of an international school and a nursery teacher.

The Maharashtra State Commission of Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) decided to look into the police’s investigation, after reading media reports.

At the previous hearing, the police told the commission that they had sought the ministry of external affairs’ support to contact the trustee. However, psychiatrists complained that they had not made any progress.

“The trustee was supposed to be arrested upon his return in the last week of June. Neither he or the accused teacher have been held. The legal formalities required to deport the trustee have not been initiated,” said Harish Shetty, senior psychiatrist, LH Hiranandani Foundation Hospital, Powai in his complaint.

He added that he would like the child rights panel to bring the guilty to book as soon as possible.

The police officials said that he has not been arrested as he is cooperating with the police investigations and he has not received anticipatory bail. A police official requesting anonymity said, “The accused arrived in India around a week ago. We have recorded his statement and he has denied the charges.”

The child was allegedly raped late last year, said police. The teacher took her to the trustee’s room, where he sexually assaulted her. Earlier this year, the girl’s mother noticed a change in her daughter’s behaviour and questioned her. The girl then told the mother about the assault, said police.

The woman told police that the trustee also sexually assaulted a three-year-old boy. Police contacted the boy’s parents, seeking to verify the allegation.

Mumbai educators and teachers said they were shocked by the allegations and highlighted the need for better awareness regarding how to handle child sexual abuse complaints. They said there was a need to sensitise students about how to differentiate between a good and bad touch.

“If a child complains about sexual abuse it should not be ignored. The commission was set up to protect children, it must ensure that such complaints are investigated and the guilty are booked soon,” said Father Francis Swamy, principal of the St Mary’s School (ICSE) Mazgaon and joint secretary of the Archdiocesan Board of Education, which runs 150-odd schools in Mumbai. In 2015, ABE formulated a child protection policy, which had rules for teachers and other staff members.

Schools must form a strong policy against sexual abuse and other malpractices, said principals. “Child sexual abuse is a reality. There are several complaints every year. Teachers must discuss them in a sensitive and appropriate manner to ensure that students are on their guard. Schools need to form an action plan to handle such incidents,” said Swamy.

First Published: Jul 17, 2017 12:58 IST

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