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Hush-up cuffs on school head

Bangalore, July 23: The chairman of the school where a six-year-old girl was raped allegedly by a skating instructor, the main accused in the crime that has triggered widespread outrage, has been arrested for trying to hush up the assault.

New city police commissioner M.N. Reddi said Rustom Kerawalla, the chairman of the Vibgyor group of schools, had been arrested from Daman and Diu.

“Our team of investigators arrested Rustom Kerawalla at Daman and Diu last night and brought him to the city today. He has been charged with culpability in this heinous crime,” Reddi said.

Kerawalla is the owner-chairman of the Vibgyor group that runs eight schools in the Karnataka capital, besides seven in other cities across the country.

“We booked Kerawalla for destruction of evidence, denial of information to police on a criminal act on a minor under custody,” Reddi, who took charge on Monday, said.

The school chairman has been charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act for not reporting the rape, Section 201 of the IPC for tampering with evidence and giving false information, and the Juvenile Justice Act for wilfully neglecting the case.

Kerawalla, who had addressed protesting parents on July 17, is based in Bangalore. Police sources did not explain why he had gone to Daman and Diu, approximately 1,100km from the Karnataka capital. One of the schools the Vibgyor group runs is in Vadodara, around 250km from Daman.

Reddi said a case had also been lodged against the high-end Vibgyor High School, where the Class I student was raped allegedly by two men, for not informing the victim’s parents and the local police about the assault that took place on July 2.

It was only after July 9, when the girl complained of a pain in the genitals, that she was taken to a local hospital where a doctor raised suspicions of a possible sexual assault. She was then taken to a bigger hospital where the pain was diagnosed as the result of rape.

The police have arrested the school skating instructor Mustafa, 31, the main accused. Although eight employees have been questioned so far, the second suspect is yet to be arrested. The victim had told the police she was assaulted by two men.

Police commissioner Reddi said investigators were closing in on the second suspect. “The department would soon nab the second culprit,” the officer said.

The city today witnessed protest rallies against the spurt in cases of sexual assaults. At one rally near Freedom Park, close to the state legislature, activists of the RSS student body ABVP blocked a main road demanding that home minister K.J. George be sacked.

Chief minister P.C. Siddaramaiah, however, scotched rumours that George would be removed.