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School rape over 2 years

Raipur, Jan. 7: Eleven tribal girls, all minors, were allegedly being raped repeatedly since the past two years at a government-run residential school in Kanker district of BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh — RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s so-called sanitised Bharat.

The contract teacher and watchman of the school in Jhaliamari village of Narharpur block in Kanke, who had been sexually assaulting the students for two years, were arrested yesterday after the district collector set a chain of events in motion on hearing a complaint from a girl’s parent last week.

Acting on her probe team’s report, district collector Alarmel Mangai D. then directed woman and child welfare department to file an FIR against the teacher and watchman for repeatedly raping the 11 girls aged between 10 and 13 years.

“Two persons, shiksha karmi Mannuram Gota and watchman Deenaram, were arrested after the woman and child welfare department lodged a complaint on January 5,” Kanker superintendent of police Rahul Bhagat said.

Yesterday, medical examination of the girls at Kanker hospital confirmed rape.

This shocking crime, which has stirred the sleepy village the same way as the Delhi gang rape jolted the nation, conceals a more serious malaise. Since the past six months, when the girls mustered up the courage to tell their school superintendent Babita Markam, everyone got busy hushing up the matter.

Bhagwat, who said rapes occurred in India, not Bharat, and blamed western influence for the former, has a lot to learn. Most rapes in villages — Bhagwat’s pastoral Bharat — go unreported to keep everyone’s “honour” intact.

In Jhaliamari village, it was the same story.

School principal Markam told the village sarpanch, who kept quiet “fearing a bad name to the village”, a senior official of the woman and child welfare department told The Telegraph. Block education officer S.S. Nawarji, who came to know about this two months ago, also hushed it up. Gota (24) and Deenaram (23) continued to have free access to the girls’ hostel at night.

Now, Kanker is witnessing a flurry of events. Besides the arrest of the teacher and watchman, the state has slapped suspension orders on the school superintendent and education officer. The residents have also come out on the roads in protest. IPS officer Neetu Kamal has been appointed investigating officer in the case.

Chief minister Raman Singh has promised severe punishment for the guilty persons. Opposition Congress, which has found an opportunity to embarrass the saffron brigade, has also constituted a five-member probe team.

It remains to be seen what is in store for 11 of India’s most vulnerable children.


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