6-year-old's rape in school van: Don't blame us, says Pune school
Warje-based institute says that it has no responsibility in the case as the incident occurred in a school van, which is privately operated; cops are seeking legal opinion to decide action against school
A day after it came to light that a school van driver had sexually assaulted a six-year-old student of a Warje-based school in his van last week, the school administration has shrugged any responsibility off its shoulders, claiming the van in which the incident took place was a private one and not among the ‘official’ transport of the school.
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Other than seven official buses, the school employs the services of seven private vans to ferry its students
“See, the school is not at all responsible for the incident, as the van was operated by a private driver. However, as the victim is a student at our school, we are providing all help to parents on moral grounds,” said school director Vijay Barate.
It should be noted, however, that the accused, Sandeep Kumbhar (30), had been providing transport service to the school for five years. Moreover, besides the seven official school buses, there are seven such private vans to transport students.
Asked if the school had no control over the van service that ferries at least a hundred students every day, he said, “The institute has its seven school buses and we have separate bus attendants and transport committees for these buses. However, we cannot restrict parents to use the school bus; many rely on the private van service. Seven such vans ferry students on a daily basis. The school doesn’t have any agreement with these van operators.”
Despite the director’s claims, the fact remains that the school has issued permits to all these vans to ferry its students. This is the fourth such incident since October 2013.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Zone I) Arvind Patil, who has jurisdiction over Warje area, said, “Though the school is not taking any responsibility of the incident that took place in the van (between November 10 and 13), it was noticed during investigations that the van has the school’s name on it, and the accused had been working for the school for the past five years. We are taking legal opinion and have been in touch with the Regional Transport Office (RTO) to ascertain lapses by the school, and decide what action can be taken against the school administration.”
Rajendra Godhane, deputy director of education (Pune region), said, “I have given instructions to the PMC education board to visit the school and submit the preliminary investigation report by Monday evening.”
Godhane’s instructions come days after mid-day’s story about how an inquiry report by the PMC education board on the rape of an 11-year-old former student of City International School in Wanwadi is still gathering dust at the deputy director’s office for the past six months.
Godhane added, “The incidences of sexual abuse against children is increasing in city schools. We are very much concerned and once we receive the report of the recent incident in Warje, we will decide the further course of action. Meanwhile, all the schools have already been asked to take precautionary measures to ensure no such incident takes place.”
Number of students at the Warje branch of the popular English-medium school