Maharashtra: Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya's 55 girls allege molestation

Akola: A manhunt has been launched to arrest two teachers who face charges of molesting 55 students of the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) in Akola, Maharashtra, an official said here on Friday.

Based on mobile telephone tracking, the Akola Civil Lines police have detected the two teachers to be hiding somewhere in Amravati and sent a police team to nab them, said Maharashtra Women's Commission (MWC) member Asha Mirge.

"These 55 girls, aged between 13-17 have given me a written, signed statement about the incident involving the two teachers, who indulged in pervert talks, molested them and made sexual advances," Mirge informed.

She met district collectorate officials with just one demand - nab the culprits and book them to serve as an example to others.

The JNVs, directly administered by the human resource development ministry, were founded with a task of discovering talented children from economically backward sections and providing them with the best of education and residential accommodation to bring them to the mainstream.

"A majority of the victims is from very poor families but extremely intelligent and has been inducted into the JNV after passing a rigorous entrance exam," said Mirge, a gynaecologist.

The two teachers - Rajan Gajbhiya, 42, and Shailesh Ramteke, 49 escape and went into hiding after Mirge brought the incident to the notice of district collector Arun Shinde, district Superintendent of Police Chandrakishore Mina, and Principal R. Singh.

"I plan to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and write to HRD Minister Smrit Irani, demanding safety and security for all the girls in such 600 residential JNVs around India," Mirge added.

Earlier, the principal informed Mirge that an internal committee had forwarded its report over the incident to the JNV divisional commissioner, Pune, who is in-charge of 64 schools in Maharashtra, 33 in Gujarat, 26 in Goa and Daman and Diu (two each), and one in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

Mirge also spoke to many of the 359 girls studying in JNV at Akola and most of them complained about the misbehaviour of the two teachers who spoke of sex organs, and how to use condoms over the past few months, which the students found offensive.

The MWC has dispatched its trauma teams to each of the JNVs in the state to ascertain if there were similar incidents elsewhere.

In December 2014, when Mirge exposed the sexual assault of 32 girls, including seven who were raped and one who committed suicide at the Tapovan Vidyalaya in Amravati, the school was shut down, she said.

"In the past few months, there have been five such major incidents of sexual exploitation or harassment of girls in such residential schools in the state. Unfortunately, the HRD minister has not even reacted to all these going-on," Mirge lamented.

Police have registered cases under Indian Penal Code Section 354, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act under Sections 8,9,10,11, against the teachers, who are on the run.

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