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4-year-old molested: Police identify 5 students, to record their statements

Deccan police are seeking consent of parents to speak to other children, to verify if the accused bus driver and attendant had committed similar acts in the past

A day after a mob of 100 parents and guardians converged at a leading school in Karve Nagar to protest the molestation of a four-year-old girl ('Parents ransack school after 4-yr-old molested'), the Deccan Police have identified five other students who travelled in the same bus as the survivor, and will be recording their statements to check if the bus attendant and driver committed such acts in the past, too.

Chaos: Angry parents converged at the school on Monday to protest the molestation of the child. Pic/Mohan Patil
Chaos: Angry parents converged at the school on Monday to protest the molestation of the child. Pic/Mohan Patil 

An official from Deccan police, who arrested bus driver Vinayak Bhikaji Karande (25) and attendant Amol Maruti Sherkar (25), said, "We have identified five other students who travelled in the same bus. We want to speak to them to gather information about Karande and Sherkar. There is a possibility that the students were aware of the incident, or that they were abused as well. This kind of information would provide us with crucial leads and help make our case strong."

The official added that since the students were minors, they would only speak to them if their parents consented. "In such cases, owing to the sensitive nature, most parents hesitate to cooperate. But, as per the law, we will be recording their statements and ensure that their identity is not revealed," he added.

Statement recorded
The Deccan police added that the survivor and her parents' statements had been taken. "We have recorded the statements of parents and they will be presented as witnesses. We have also added Section 376(i) related to rape in this case," said Praveen Chougule, police inspector from the Deccan police station.

Suspects remanded to police custody till April 13

Yesterday, bus driver Vinayak Bhikaji Karande (25) and attendant Amol Maruti Sherkar, who have been accused of molesting a four-year-old, were presented in court by Inspector Praveen Chougule, in-charge of Deccan police station. Special Judge S D Darne said, "Since the offence is serious and the age of the victim is four, the police should investigate the case properly."

Bus attendant Amol Maruti Sherkar and driver Vinayak Bhikaji Karande
Bus attendant Amol Maruti Sherkar and driver Vinayak Bhikaji Karande 

He also remanded the duo to police custody till April 13. Inspector Chougule had requested the court to grant them seven days of custodial interrogation. Speaking in court, he said, "We have to verify the antecedents of the arrested suspects and also a medical check-up of the victim has to be done."

The duo have been charged under sections 5(m), 6, 7 and 8 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012 and sections 376(i), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.

Case against angry parents
Deccan police officials added that a case of vandalising school property had also been registered against the irate parents, who damaged property worth Rs 3 lakh. "As CCTV cameras are placed inside the school, identifying suspects would be a difficult job," said Ramesh More, assistant police inspector of Deccan police station. 

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