Pune: Seven girls staying at a residential school run by the state government in Yerawada have finally broken their silence and accused the headmaster of making sexual advances. Despite this, the Social Welfare Department has only issued a show-cause notice to the person concerned asking him why he should not be terminated from service.
The matter has been put up for further inquiry, but no FIR has been lodged against the headmaster.
The incident came to light after the girls narrated their ordeal to the regional deputy commissioner of the Social Welfare Department, following which an investigation was initiated against the headmaster.
Child rights activist Anjali Pawar expressed shock over the fact that no FIR had been registered against the headmaster.
"It is the responsibility of the government authorities to lodge a police complaint against the person, considering the children are from the weaker sections and staying in a hostel. Such children are under the protection of the state," she said. "By shying away from their responsibility, are the officials waiting for a more serious offence to happen at the hands of this person?"
Minister of Social Justice Shivajirao Moghe claimed to have no knowledge of the happenings, but said he would ensure strict action against the guilty.
"This is a serious matter, I will ask my officers to take stringent action against those involved," he said.
Yadav Iraba Gaikwad (38), the headmaster of the residential school meant for children of state conservancy staff, is accused of seeking sexual favours from the girl students and their mothers.
He allegedly used to ask the girl students to come to his residence on the premises of the boarding school, force them to perform cleaning and sweeping work, and often beat them.
Anil Kamble, the Regional Deputy Commissioner of the Social Welfare Department, said an anonymous call had led to the department opening an investigation in the matter.
"In the month of April, we had received an anonymous call and the caller had informed us that Gaikwad was involved in such activities which can tarnish the image of teachers and as well as the department," Kamble said. "Later I sent our two officers, including a lady officer, to go to the residential school and investigate the matter."
Prabhakar Pardeshi, the investigation officer, said they were shocked by what the girls told them.
"We reached the school and interacted with the girl students. During the interaction, seven girls aged between 7 and 12 told us some shocking things " that the headmaster Gaikwad has been trying to molest them by seeking kisses, touching inappropriately and also asking them to call their mothers to give him a kiss," Pardeshi said.
Kamble said the headmaster confessed to making the girls do cleaning work at his home and beating them to "discipline" them, but refuted the other charges.
"As the matter was serious, we took statements of these girls and later initiated the inquiry and summoned Gaikwad on April 4, 2012, to the office, but he refuted all the charges and informed us that he had not done such things to the girls," Kamble said. "But he confessed and apologised that he had called some of the girls to his residence to perform the cleaning work and also told us that he had beaten up some girls in order to teach them some discipline."
Fresh offence claim
After the inquiry against Gaikwad, he was furious and allegedly again thrashed one of the seven girls for complaining against him, but the girl contacted the officers investigating the case and narrated this incident as well.
Kamble then sent him a show-cause notice, asking why he should not be punished for his activities.
"We received the reply to the notice in which he had refuted all the charges against him, we then sought the suggestions from the district Social Welfare Office on the reply, but the district office gave negative remark, terming the case as sensitive and serious," Pardeshi said. "After receiving their reply, we wrote our remarks and recommended stern action against Gaikwad and also recommended that he should be terminated from service," Pardeshi said another inquiry would now be conducted by Director of Social Welfare Department RK Gaikwad. "We have sent the report to the Director of Social Welfare Department RK Gaikwad, who will be doing another inquiry. At the end of the inquiry, he (headmaster) will be punished," Pardeshi said.
On why the police complaint was not lodged against the headmaster, Pardeshi said the decision would have to be taken by the directorate office.
"Our job was just to investigate the case and submit the report, but whether to file a police complaint against Gaikwad will be decided by the directorate office as they are the competent authority," Pardeshi said.
Demanding kisses from girl students
- A STD VII girl student has stated in her complaint that the headmaster called her to his residence on a Sunday to clean his house and later demanded a kiss from her. As she was scared, she ran away from his residence.
- A Std II girl student complained against Gaikwad in her statement, saying he had asked her to bring her mother to
the school and when her mother did so, he demanded a kiss from her.
- A Std IV student told the investigating officer that the headmaster had asked her elder sister to come to the school, and after meeting her and taking her number, he would call her.
- A Std IV student stated in her complaint that the headmaster used to call her mother frequently and used to invite her to his residence.
What Upcoming bill for protection of children from sexual abuse says
Chapter 5 mentions the procedure for reporting of cases of sexual abuse. Under Section 19 (1), it is mandatory for any person who is in knowledge of such offence to share the information with the local police or the juvenile cell.