The recent molestation of a three-year-old in a Juhu school bus has sent Brinda Mathur, a parent from Andheri, into panic mode.
“It was shocking that the girl was molested in her school bus even though a woman attendant was on board. Such incidents, coupled with the growing instances of school bus accidents, show that it’s not safe for a child to travel in a school bus anymore,” she complains.
Mathur and a few other parents who live nearby have now decided to carpool to school, instead.
Akansha Sharma, her neighbour, explains that this arrangement is not just safer, but also cheaper. “Some of the mothers in the locality own cars and are homemakers. So, they have the time to take their kids to school.”
Many parents in the city are considering backing out of school bus services and making alternative arrangements to ensure their children’s safety.
Rajendra Choudhary, a professor from Vile Parle (E), has begun sending his daughter to school in a private auto. He feels that unless the bus is owned by the school, the onus of ensuring students’ safety falls on parents, and not on the school. “Teachers are already overburdened with work and should not be given duties of an attendant. Parents need to shoulder the responsibility and find other ways of transport for their kids.”
Many parents from Choudhary’s housing society have hired the services of a mini-school bus. “Parents need to meet the bus contractor themselves and should not just depend on the school. They should also interact with the bus staff, such as attendants, conductors and drivers, regularly,” he advises.
Sonal Patel from Santa Cruz and her husband have decided to drop their daughter at school on their way to work from the coming month. “She is usually the last to be dropped home. We do not want to compromise on our child’s safety,” says Patel.
Meanwhile, school bus owners are threatening not to run services if a woman attendant is not aboard the vehicle. In case such a provision can’t be made, they’ve demanded, an eligible replacement or a parent should be present on board.
Many parents are opting for BEST-run school buses in the hope that they can be made more accountable. Arundhati Chavan, president of the PTA United Forum, says, “Many schools contract buses. Now, some parents believe that BEST bus services are more trustworthy.”
Wish I was at protests: CJI
“I wish I could also have been there, but I can’t,” chief justice of India Altamas Kabir on Monday said while terming the upsurge and protests that took place in the wake of the December 16 gang rape incident as “fully justified” and “absolutely necessary”.
In-camera gang rape trial
Trial proceedings in the December 16 Delhi gang rape case will be held in-camera before a fast track court, which has decided to hear arguments on the framing of charges against five accused on January 24. Upholding the previous order of a magistrate, the judge said, “Only those who are connected to the case will stay in the courtroom.”