A year later, still no justice for 11-year-old rape survivor

PMC education board’s report has scathing remarks against the school’s conduct regarding the sexual assault in the school bus, but it has been gathering dust for the past six months

More than a year after the rape of a former student of City International School in Wanawadi came to light, the state deputy director of education (DDE, Pune division) has not acted upon the report submitted by Pune Municipal Corporation’s education board for investigating the lapses on part of the school in preventing sexual offences against children. If the DDE acts on this report, the school can be de-recognised. Moreover, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) can also de-affiliate it.

City International School
Bus attendant Khalid Pathan of the City International School was arrested for repeatedly raping the girl

The civic education board’s report, accessed by mid-day, has scathing remarks against the school management for their deliberate attempts to suppress the rape incident and shirking of responsibility by asking the survivor’s parents to cancel her admission.

The report specifically demands that the school be disaffiliated from the CBSE. It also mentions several instances of how the school management tried to suppress the case and even tried to protect the culprit.

However, for the past six months this report is gathering dust at the DDE office, which did not even accept the board’s report citing lack of enough evidence to take action.

The report states: “There are various irregularities observed in the school. This include starting and running some divisions illegally, not forming parent-teachers association, not appointing a separate transport guide in the school. All these lapses are severe and prove the school is not following the norms and conditions of remaining affiliated with the CBSE. Hence the no-objection certificate (NOC, given by the state government) should get cancelled.”

The case and its investigation show the education department’s seriousness in dealing cases of sexual assault on schoolchildren, since besides appointing an inquiry committee and compiling reports, no action has been taken against the school.

The report also mentions how there were variations in statements of school principal, class teacher and school director, and how all of them were reluctant in sharing information regarding the incident. The then school principal, Mausmi Chaudhari, who was suspended, had argued with the committee that “there are 1,400 girl students in the school. How do you expect I keep attention on every girl?”

When contacted, Rajendra Godhane, deputy director of education (Pune division), who is supposed to take action against the school, said that he would look into the matter as he had recently taken charge of the post.

Sultana Mulani, deputy education head of the PMC education board, who had led the investigation committee, said, “We first submitted our report to the deputy directorate office in May 2014. However, they had some queries and sent it to us again, asking us to resubmit the report, which we did in July 2014.”

She added she had no update on what action the deputy directorate took against the school, as the committee’s duty was to submit the report. The deputy directorate office and the education board have locked horns over the current status of the report, as the former is claiming that the board has not submitted the revised report.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior official said, “The file records clearly show that we had asked the education board to re-submit the report by making some clarifications. But till date we have not received any such report on the basis of which we can take any action against the school.”

Bapurao Kale, inspector in charge of Wanawadi police station, said, “The school had promised to give its internal inquiry report against the principal and the trustee within 15 days, but we have not yet received it. We sent them reminder letters repeatedly but they have failed to give it to us. We finally submitted the chargesheet in court.”

Family's ordeal

The survivor’s father said, “I have come to know that it’s been almost a month since the PMC’s school board had submitted its report to the education department, but I have not got the report. I visit the offices daily but am made to run around from pillar to post. Is this the way the victim is treated, or am I a culprit? I am the helpless father of four daughters and my teenaged daughter was sexually abused. But neither the school nor the government has given any ray of hope to me.

I even went to meet the collector but the officials at the collectorate did not let me meet him. When the incident took place, the school had constituted an inquiry against the principal and the trustee. They took my statement in camera but are tightlipped about it. The Regional Transport Office had also done an inquiry, but none is healing my pain. The police have filed the chargesheet and the court is yet to commence the trial.”
He added, “I used to pay around Rs 50,000 as fees at City International School for my daughter, assuming she would get the best education. But she was exploited and insulted by the school. I remember the day I had gone to meet the principal and trustee, who did not note my grievances. Moreover, they gave my daughter’s school leaving certificate along with her result in the peon’s hand. I have lost hope that the school would give me justice, but I still have faith in the judiciary and the police. I want to see the culprits hanged.”

The case
On April 16, the survivor’s father had lodged a complaint with Wanawadi police station.  The survivor was a student of Std IV and was repeatedly raped by the bus attendant Pathan in October 2013, as per the complaint. The parents came to know of the incident in November and approached the school principal and management, who did not take cognisance of the complaint. So he approached the police.

On July 10, the Wanawadi police submitted a chargesheet before a special judge against the bus driver Kamruddin Shaikh (52), attendant Khalid Pathan (29), then principal Moushmi Chaudhari and director Ashok Gupta.

All have been charged under the Indian Penal Code sections that deal with the crimes of rape, molestation, criminal intimidation and abetment. They have also been slapped with sections of the POCSO Act .

The other side
Dr Nikhil Wagh, managing director of City International Group, said, “After the sexual abuse reported from our Wanawadi-based school, we have taken stringent steps regarding buses and transportation. Now all are buses have a GPS system. We have also constituted a parent-teacher body, which has regular meetings. Apart from it, we have started workshops on gender sensitivity and ‘good and bad’ touch.”

Asked about the PMC report, which has strictures against the school, he said, “We have still not received any such copy from the PMC, nor are we aware of such an inquiry report. We have not got any instructions from CBSE, too. But disaffiliation is not the solution, as we have taken effective steps. This will be unjust to us and the students. The principal and the director have been suspended and our internal school committee report will be concluded by this month’s end.”

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