Jharkhand: Principal and guard of school arrested for sexually harassing schoolgirls

Jharkhand: Principal and guard of school arrested for sexually harassing schoolgirls

On Friday, August 18, the principal and a guard of a residential school for girls in the Dumka district of Jharkhand were arrested over allegations of harassing the schoolgirls. The action came after a group of girls studying at the residential school run by the state’s Welfare Department on Thursday sent a letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Dumka Anjaneyulu Dodde informing the DC about the alleged harassment.

The letter stated that the school’s guard watches pron videos and sexually harasses them. The students urged the authorities to take prompt action or else they will be compelled to take desperate measures.

“We are pained to say that we are studying in a very miserable condition. The school guard watches dirty videos and sexually harasses, and abuses us. We are very scared and are in pain. Please take action or else we will be forced to take some desperate measures.”

Additionally, the students alleged in their letter that community-specific slurs were directed against them. They further said that the residential school’s teachers took them and the school staff home to do household tasks. Moreover, the students alleged that the principal had asked their parents to give them money to buy alcohol. 

The girl students also alleged that apart from these two, two more teachers often drink alcohol inside the school premises.

While the principal and the guard have been arrested, two teachers named in the FIR are absconding. Meanwhile, the statements of the students have been recorded before a magistrate.

DC Dodde said that the letter sent by the girls was received on Thursday, and within five minutes a team headed by an IAS officer was deployed to conduct an investigation into the allegations. “The findings were shocking. We immediately lodged a complaint and registered an FIR,” the Dumka DC said.

After the allegations levelled by the schoolgirls were found to be true, the DC directed the District Welfare Officer Sanjay Kashyap, who runs the school, to file an FIR against the headmaster and three others without delay. Following this, the District Welfare Officer gave a complaint letter to the city police station and filed an FIR against Headmaster Shailejanand Jha, night watchman Shivpujan, and teachers Pankaj and Nihal.

According to DWO Sanjay Kashyap, there are 280 girl students in the residential school in question. Moreover, male teachers have been removed from the other two residential schools and counseling sessions for the students have been started educating them about good and bad touch.

After the complaint was filed, police recorded the statements of the girls in the presence of a judicial magistrate.

Meanwhile, police station in-charge Arvind Kumar revealed that in addition to the allegations mentioned in the letter, it has been found that the accused teachers used to sexually abuse the students by inappropriately touching them on the pretext of medical checkups.

The police officer further informed that a case was registered under IPC Sections 354-A (sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment), 354-B (any man who assaults or uses criminal force to any woman 354-D (punishment for stalking), and under POCSO Section 8 (sexual assault), 12 (sexual harassment).

In a press conference, Dumka SP Pitambar Kherwar stated that the arrested principal and guard were produced before the court that sent to jail. The court refused police custody of the accused as the FIR does not mention any victim’s name. As POCSO has been invoked in the case, age of the victims needs to be proved, and that’s why the FIR must identify the victims.

SP Kherwar added that investigation into the matter is underway.

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