Mumbai (The Hindu): Maharashtra Director General of Police Satish Mathur on Friday said a special investigating team (SIT) has been formed to probe the alleged rape of a ten-year-old girl student in an ashram school in Buldhana.
The Buldhana police had arrested 11 accused, all school employees, on Thursday in connection with the incident including school sweeper and main accused Ittusingh Pawar. While Pawar was arrested for rape, the other ten, including teachers and the president of the trust that runs the school, were arrested for not reporting the matter despite knowing about the incident. As per the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, withholding knowledge of a crime against a minor is also a punishable offence.
Mr. Mathur said SP (CID, Nagpur) Arti Singh will head the SIT, and police are making inquiries to find out if more students have been targeted. He added that two more accused, also school employees, are absconding. Mr. Mathur said Pawar was alone allegedly abused the victim sexually. The SIT comprising Ms. Singh and four women officers will visit the residences of all girl students of the ashram school.
“Pawar is an ex-student of same school and knows the local tribal language well. He was tasked with interacting with the students and conveying their concerns to the teachers, and would also ferry some students to and from their houses,” A Buldhana Police officer said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday said following the incident, all schools operated or aided by the State government will be visited by women officers, who will interact with girl students.
The rape came to light earlier this week when the victim returned home for Diwali holidays. The girl, parents told investigors, was visibly disturbed and wasn’t speaking much or eating well. When her mother enquired, she revealed that Pawar had sexually abused her on at least three occasions in the past few months. The victim, police were told, had also confided in her teachers, who allegedly told her to “let bygones be bygones”.
Meanwhile, State Tribal Welfare Minister Vishnu Sawra said the government had derecognised the school, while Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil demanded Mr. Sawra’s resignation.
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