TT Epaper
The Telegraph
Graphiti
 
CIMA Gallary

School child rape sparks parent fury
- Cop pressure on assaulted college girl and outing of identity compounds Bangalore’s outrage

Bangalore, July 17: Reports that a six-year-old Class I girl was gang-raped in her school prompted hundreds of protesting parents to barge into the schoolhouse today, smashing glass panes and furniture.

Police had detained a school gym instructor and a security guard on July 15 in connection with the alleged sexual assault on July 2, which came to the fore when the child fell severely ill and was taken to hospital on July 11.

Police commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar said any arrest would be made only after the child, now under medical care for physical injuries and mental trauma, had recovered sufficiently for a fresh identification parade to be held.

The Vibgyor School in Marathahalli, an east Bangalore suburb home to many IT companies, caters largely to the children of techies and charges Rs 3 lakh a year, for instance, from parents of Class IV students. The girl’s father, a techie, hails from Odisha.

Parents have been protesting the lack of security at the school since yesterday, a day after a local daily reported the alleged gang rape. The school has been closed since yesterday and its chairman, Rustom Kerawalla, met the parents today after they forced their way in.

According to the parents, Kerawalla denied he was trying to hush the incident up and claimed the school had given the police CCTV footage and all possible information on the two suspects.

He said more CCTV cameras and security guards would be in place when the school reopened tomorrow. But the parents said they would not send their children to school before next Tuesday’s scheduled meeting with the management to discuss security. The parents have a 40-point charter of demands.

An FIR under Section 376 (rape) has been registered against “unknown persons” since the two suspects are only under detention.

One of the agitating parents who identified himself only as “Ahmed” accused the school of hiring the “wrong” kind of staff.

“They pay salaries ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,000; so they can’t get any professional security staff. That’s why most of the guards are semi-literates from outside the state who follow neither English nor Kannada,” he said.

It wasn’t clear whether the detained suspects were from outside Karnataka: the police would not reveal their names or any other details.

Police sources said the girl fell ill on July 4 and was down with fever for five days. On July 9, she complained of a pain in the genitals to her mother and gave vague answers when asked to explain.

When she began crying in pain on July 11, she was taken to a local hospital where a doctor raised suspicions of a possible sexual assault. She was taken to a bigger hospital where the pain was diagnosed as the result of rape.

Following standard procedure, an NGO working on child abuse was contacted on July 13 and the next day, the parents lodged a police complaint. The girl told the police she had been to the gym on July 2, focusing suspicion on the gym instructor and the guard, who was posted somewhere near.

At an ID parade on July 15, the child pointed to the gym instructor and a police constable (one of several used in the parade in keeping with norms) — suggesting the involvement of two attackers — but failed to pick out the security guard.

“We are therefore waiting for the girl to come out of her trauma to conduct another parade,” a police source said.

The school crime, along with a college girl’s complaint of abduction and rape in a moving car on Friday night by one among a gang that posed as a cop, has led to young Bangaloreans creating a Facebook page titled “Win Bangalore Back” to express their outrage.

Their anger has been compounded by allegations that the inspector of the Frazer Town police station, Mohammed Rafi, initially forced the girl to leave “sexual assault” and “kidnapping” out of the complaint and restrict it to physical assault and robbery.

Then, after a nudge from his superiors whom the girl’s family had contacted, Rafi allegedly sent a constable in uniform to the girl’s home, violating a Supreme Court directive about protecting rape complainants’ identities.

The police today filed an FIR against Rafi under Section 166A, which relates to violations of the rules relating to rape investigations, but sources claimed the officer had gone into hiding.

Rape accused Hyder Nasir, 28, is the son of a local Bahujan Samaj Party leader who the girl’s friends alleged had tried to persuade them to “forgive” his son. Two alleged accomplices have been arrested and two are in hiding.

A group of people today protested the arrests outside the police station.

The lone witness, a male friend of the girl who was allegedly held at knifepoint, said he had received threat calls warning him against co-operating with the police.

Chief minister P.C. Siddaramaiah has promised “very strong action against the perpetrators and the errant police officer”.

V.S. Vimala, state vice-president of the Left-wing All India Democratic Women’s Association, condemned Rafi’s alleged actions. Shakun Mohini from Vimochana, a women’s rights forum, rued that the police’s gender-sensitisation initiatives had failed to achieve results.

City police have 3,000 vacancies. Additional commissioner Kamal Pant said the seven “Abhaya” patrol cars —dedicated to women’s security in Bangalore and launched after the December 16, 2012, Delhi bus gang rape — had reverted to regular patrol.