| Some of the girls who met the RJD delegation at Aliganj village in Rohtas district on Sunday. Picture by Sanjay Choudhary |
Patna, Aug. 19: The chief minister’s bicycle gift to schoolgirls seem to have turned out to be bane for a few.
A meritorious girl in Rohtas district was thrilled when she received a bicycle under the chief minister’s scheme about three years ago. She covered about 4km everyday to reach her school at Bikramganj. A favourite of her teachers, she was honoured with the “best student” award for attending regular classes.
Her joy did not last long. For the past year, the girl, who had enrolled in Class XI of a government school in Bikramganj, has stopped going to school.
She said: “Envious of my studies, some criminals at Imirata village started harassing me when I used to go to school. Initially, I ignored their lewd comments. But one day they threw me off the bicycle and tried to outrage my modesty. Since then I do not venture out,” she told an RJD delegation that visited her village today.
The resident of Aliganj, around 130km southwest of Patna, was one of the nine girls who narrated her story to the delegation led by former Chenari MLA Lalan Paswan. The JD(U) MLA from Dinara, Jai Kumar Singh, also met the parents today and pledged help.
The group had also called on National Commission for Women (NCW) member Charu Wali Khanna on Friday.
Some of the girls said they had not been attending classes since 2007. “We have been running from the pillar to post for justice and protect our fellow villagers (girls) from harassment,” said one of the girls. Most of the girls are either enrolled at the government high school or AS College at Bikramganj.
Father of one of the victims, who is enrolled in first-year at AS College, said: “The girls used to go to Bikramganj on their bicycles to attend coaching classes. However, they stopped going to class ever since the boys started tormenting them. Their career is at stake.”
The parents alleged they had complained at the police station and even visited chief minister Nitish Kumar at his janata durbar in Patna, but the harassment of their wards did not stop. Vidyanand Singh, a resident of Aliganj, said the matter was brought before Rohtas district magistrate Anupam Kumar on April 19 but nothing happened.
Hira Lal Singh, the mukhiya (village head) of Belhar under whose jurisdiction Aliganj village falls, said around six months ago he was told some youths from Imirata were allegedly misbehaving with the girls. He told The Telegraph: “I did not receive any written complaint either from the girls or the alleged tormentors. I would have intervened if there was any serious incident.”
Principal of the high school in Bikramganj Jaglal Ram also said: “I have not received any complaint of eve-teasing from the students.”
Last month, Imirata resident Manish Kumar Yadav had snatched the dupatta of another girl in Aliganj on her way to coaching class in Bikramganj. Manish was caught by the residents, alerted by the girl’s cries, and handed over to the police. He was, however, released soon.
Rohtas superintendent of police (SP) Manu Maharaj said: “Manish Kumar, said to be the ringleader, was booked twice under Section 354 (eve-teasing) of the Indian Penal Code. But he was released on bail by the court.” He added two more accused, Munna Kumar and Muttur Kumar, were arrested yesterday and forwarded to jail. Sources said two other accused in the case have been identified as Aliganj residents Sunny Kumar and Jyoti Prakash.
Maharaj, who visited Aliganj on Friday, said a special team comprising deputy superintendent of police (headquarters) Anand Prakash and sub-inspector Kanchan Kumari has been constituted to probe the case. “The police initiated action soon after the matter was brought to our notice. A proposal has been submitted to the state police headquarters to initiate proceedings against the accused under the Crime Control Act and also to cancel Manish’s bail.”
He said a DSP-rank officer was earlier sent to Aliganj to assure the parents of the girl and provide them police escort if they wished for it.
A three-member team of the state women’s commission is also likely to visit Aliganj on Tuesday.