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Manipur suspends officials over rape

Imphal, June 15: The Okram Ibobi Singh government suspended the director in-charge of the social welfare department, L. Ibobi Singh, and headmistress of Government Ideal Blind School, W. Binakumari Devi, for “mishandling” an alleged rape case that took place on the school campus.

The deputy secretary, department of personal and administrative reforms, A. Subhas, issued an order on Friday suspending the two officials.

Social welfare minister Akoijam Mirabai Devi announced the suspension of the two officials during a school function in Imphal today.

The two officials were charged with not reporting the matter to the higher authorities, including the minister, immediately after the incident came to light.

The chowkidar of the school allegedly raped a 13-year-old student of the school inside the campus, located at Takyelpat of Imphal West on March 31.

The girl reportedly remained silent and the students union of the school, after learning the incident, reported the matter to the headmistress on April 14, stating that she was assaulted by the chowkidar, Him Bahadur Thapa, 50.

After recording the girl’s statement, the school authority suspended the chowkidar and lodged a complaint with Lamphel police station. The chowkidar was arrested a week ago and is in police custody.

The girl was medically examined.

Mirabai Devi said the two officials were placed under suspension so that a proper departmental inquiry could be instituted against them for their negligence.

“It is shocking to learn that a differently-abled student was assaulted. All efforts would be made to punish the culprit,” Mirabai said.

The state social welfare department runs the school.

The Welfare Association for the Blind demanded that the police submit its chargesheet by June 30. “We will launch an agitation if the chargesheet is not filed by June 30,” M. Henry, president of the association, said.

The All Tribal Disabled Union, Manipur, also demanded stringent punishment for the culprit.

“Parents of differently-abled persons entrust their wards in the custody of the school authorities so that their children can become good citizens. If the school authorities and the government fail to take befitting action in such cases people will lose faith in the school,” Sapam Jasobanta, secretary of Handicapped Development Foundation, Imphal, said.

The incident took place at a time when there is growing concern over the increasing cases of sexual assault in the state.

According to the Women Action for Development, an Imphal-based women organisation working on women issues, there were 18 cases of rape in the state in the past five months. Last year, four rapists were sentenced to life imprisonment in a gang-rape case and two sentenced to 15 years rigorous imprisonment in another rape case as against the 16 cases of rape recorded.

Sobita Mangsatabam, secretary of the Women Action for Development, demanded speedy investigation and trial of rapists to help check such incidents.


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