Jorhat, Sept. 14: Police last night arrested a teacher of Ashadeep Siksha Kendra, a residential special training centre under Sarva Siksha Abhijan at Naharkatiya in Assam’s Dibrugarh district, on charges of molesting six minor students of the institution.
Naharkatiya is 50km from district headquarters Dibrugarh in Upper Assam, and about 490km from Guwahati.
The alleged crime came to light on Wednesday, when the girls, aged between 12 and 14, complained to Dipti Gogoi Mech, a member of the governing body, and Biren Deka, an assistant teacher at the centre. The matter was subsequently brought to the notice of the Jeypore block elementary education officer, who lodged a complaint at Naharkatiya police station the next day.
The girls had not been sent for any medical tests following the complaint, sources said.
Yesterday, the Sarva Shiksha Abhijan district progra-mme officer summoned the accused and the girls to his office in Dibrugarh and crosschecked the charges. Police officers and district administration officials were also present.
A case (number 66/13) has been registered at Naharkatiya police station under Section 376 (C) IPC read with Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012.
Section 376 (C) pertains to “intercourse by superintendent of jail, remand home, etc” and is punishable with up to five years in prison and a fine.
Naharkatiya police station officer in-charge Utpal Bora said preliminary investigations had indicated that the teacher, in his early 50s, was guilty of the charges and had allegedly threatened the girls with dire consequences if they divulged the matter. “I cannot describe what the girls revealed to the district programme officer yesterday. Dibrugarh police arrested him right after that, though he denied all charges.”
The teacher was taken to Naharkatiya for further questioning this morning and later produced in court and remanded in judicial custody.
The Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has taken suo motu cognisance of the case and directed the district police to submit an action taken report within seven days.
“We have also written to the deputy commissioner and the superintendent of police to deal with the complaint seriously and apply appropriate sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012,” the commission’s chairperson, Runumi Gogoi, told The Telegraph.
“I also spoke to deputy superintendent of police Bhaskar Pegu who looks after child protection cases. We have directed the police to take to task those who knew about the incident but kept mum.”
A resident of Naharkatiya said over phone that it was strange that the teacher, who was instrumental in establishing the Ashadeep Shiksha Kendra in 2009, was its coordinator for some time and had been teaching mathematics in it ever since, had indulged in such behaviour.
Sarva Shiksha Abhijan divides a district into a number of educational blocks and separate residential centres for boys and girls are set up in one of two such blocks. These are known as the residential special training centres. Here, dropouts and over-aged students are imparted education in the “acceleration method” so that they can catch up with their peers.
The centre in Jeypore educational block is only for girls and has 86 students.