Luring them with good grades in exams, the vice-principal of a convent school in Lohegaon allegedly sexually assaulted middle-school students many times in the past year.

The accused, Johnpaul Aarogadas Aadkalas Swami (30), is in police custody until November 24
The accused, Johnpaul Aarogadas Aadkalas Swami (30), is in police custody until November 24

Late on Tuesday night, the Airport police arrested Suresh Johnpaul Aarogadas Aadkalas Swami (30), who is a native of Tamil Nadu, under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) ACT, 2002. Incidentally, he taught the students Moral Science.

The school management has sealed its lips on the issue, stating merely that they regret the incident. Initially, none of the parents of the abused students wanted to lodge a complaint, but after the police counselled them, eight of them decided to go ahead, and an FIR was lodged on Monday afternoon.

The mother of one of the victims was named as the complaint. She said the victim’s elder sister was teaching her about ‘good touch and bad touch’ when she revealed the vice-principal’s criminal misdeed. Inspector Sanjay Kurundkar, in charge of Airport police station, said, “I have special staff to patrol schools and other academic institutes in my station’s jurisdiction.

One of them told me some parents had gathered at the co-ed school in Lohegaon on Saturday. We investigated and found out that parents of eight girls were alleging that their wards had been sexually assaulted and manhandled by Swami, who used to teach Moral Science.”

He continued, “The alarmed parents had approached the class teacher on Saturday, who immediately informed the school principal. But the principal merely warned Swami and failed to alert us, which is in violation of the POCSO Act.” Kurundkar also said the parents were initially hesitant to file a complaint. “We called the parents to lodge a complaint with us but none of them wanted that.

Only after we convinced them did they agree, and on Monday, after they lodged the complaint, we arrested Swami from his house,” he said. Relating how Swami would manhandle the girls, the inspector said, “According to the complainant, her daughter told her that when she and two of her friends were in Std VII, Swami would touch them inappropriately, telling them he would give them good marks.

During a Christmas party, he forcefully grabbed and pulled them near him to click a picture on his cell phone. When the girls were promoted to the next class, he again targeted them. During lunch break, he’d let the rest of the 30 students go but keep the trio back to abuse them.”

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone IV) Manoj Patil said, “Swami told us during interrogation that he was not at fault and he only patted the students’ on their backs to encourage them. But when my staff interacted with some boys from the school, they said he would misbehave with girl students. We have recovered his mobile and laptop to gain information about the pictures clicked by him.”

In court, additional public prosecutor Leena Pathak had argued, “The nature of the incident is heinous and Swami, who is a teacher of moral science, has manhandled and sexually assaulted the girls. At present, some eight victims have come ahead and there are chances of more coming forward after his arrest.

Swami is not cooperating in the investigation. He has taken advantage of the delay in registering the complaint and tampered with the evidence, and so, for an in-depth investigation his police custody is essential.” Swami was produced before special judge Mangala Dhote yesterday and remanded in police custody till November 24.