Kindergarten Student Raped by School Bus Driver in Bhopal
A three-and-a-half-year-old kindergarten student was raped allegedly by her school bus driver inside the vehicle in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh on September 8. The driver has been arrested along with the vehicle’s woman attendant who, according to the child’s parents, was present at the time of the crime.
The heinous crime committed by Driver Hanumat Jatav surfaced after the girl went to the home in a different dress which raised suspicion by her mother and after which the atrocity with the three and a half year old surfaced.
Urmila Sahu, the caretaker of the bus, was aware of the driver’s actions. She used to accompany the driver but never opposed the driver even after seeing what was wrong with the girl.
The Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Nidhi Saxena said “The kindergarten girl, studying in a leading private school in the city, was returning home in the bus when the incident occurred. After the girl returned home, her mother noticed that someone had changed her clothes with the spare set kept in her bag. The mother enquired with her daughter’s class teacher and also the school principal, but both of them denied having changed the child’s clothes. The girl later complained of pain in her private parts. Her parents took her into confidence and counselled her, following which she informed them that the bus driver had abused her and also changed her clothes. The parents went to the school the next day to complain to authorities and the child identified the driver, the official said. The girl’s parents filed a complaint with the police on Monday, following which a probe was launched.”
A case has been registered under Indian Penal Code section 376-AB (rape of a girl under 12 years of age) and relevant provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The police are trying to identify the exact spot where the crime was committed and the medical report of the child is awaited.
Soon after the arrest of the accused bus driver, the district administration demolished the “illegal” house of the accused driver on directives of authorities, an official said. The demolition in Bhopal’s Shahpura area took place under the supervision of the police.
The revenue and Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) squads in a joint operation demolished the bus driver’s illegal house, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Kshitij Sharma said on Tuesday i.e., 12th September.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan in an emergency meeting at his home on, 15th September said that the government has taken the incident very seriously. The accused (persons) have been arrested in the school bus case. This incident of rape has been put in the category of the identified crime so that the trial of the case can be conducted at the earliest, and the harshest punishment ensured.
He further added, “Parents send their children to school with a lot of faith in the institution. It is the duty of the school management to ensure the trust is not broken. Strict action must be taken against the driver and woman attendant as well as the school management. It is the duty of the school management to ensure police verification of the bus staff. We can’t leave children at the hands of barbarians”.
He also added that the school belongs to an influential person and the administration must ensure strict action against the management or else a message will be sent in society that nothing happens to such persons.
Narottam Mishra, home minister of Madhya Pradesh told reporters that “People from the school management will be questioned. I also believe that the school management tried to cover up the matter. After the questioning and investigation, action will also be taken against the school management.”
After the FIR was registered by the Mohila police, the state CM formed an SIT (Special Investigation Team) probe for the case. The SIT in-charge additional commissioner of police, Shurit Kirti Somwanshi told the media that the team visited the school and conducted the investigations.
Somvanshi said that investigation revealed serious irregularities by the school chairman, director, principal and transport manager in dealing with the case. He said, “After being informed about the crime, the four accused tried to cover up the incident by hook or crook. Instead of informing the police, they went numb. They should have immediately informed the police and initiated action against the accused. They, however, took the case lightly and the accused continued to report for duty. The school administration violated the norms set by the Supreme Court and also ignored the instructions given by the transport commissioner. The four have been charged with violation of the law”.
The police have registered the case against chairman Najam Jamal, director operations Faizal Ali, principal Ashish Agarwal and transport manager Sayed Bilal. A case was registered under Section 21-2 of the POCSO Act for hiding the rape case. The other case was registered under Section 188 of the IPC for violating the bus operation as per the SC and transport commissioner instructions.
On Thursday, the parents gathered in front of the school and created ruckus. They raised slogans against the school administration and demanded a meeting with the principal. However, they were denied permission.
The principal also refused to come out to meet them. The parents alleged that they were paying high fees for good education and safety of their children. However, no security was being provided to their children.