A nine-year-old schoolgirl was molested by an unidentified man who entered the premises of a school run by the Brihanmumbai Muncipal Corporation (BMC) in Shivaji Nagar on Thursday. This incident has raised fresh doubts over the safety of children in schools, especially since there were several strangers within the school premises even during class hours. Some space in the premises had been allotted for Adhaar card registrations.
The victim, a class two student, had taken a break during class hours to visit the toilet on the second floor of the school building around 5pm when the incident occurred, the police said. Her assailant, who has not yet been arrested, fled when she screamed for help and was lost among other strangers in the premises.
In her statement, the victim told the police that when she reached the second floor, she saw a stranger approaching her. The victim said she had never seen her assailant before. According to her statement, he is 40-45 years old, bearded and was wearing trousers and a shirt. He rushed towards her and before she realised what was happening, he gagged her with his palm and then molested her. A few seconds later, when the victim managed to raise an alarm, he fled down the stairs.
“The victim was scared and hence did not mention the incident to anybody in the school. However, when she reached her house, she told her mother about what had happened. When the victim’s father returned home at 9.30pm, his wife narrated the incident to him,” said RS Agarwal, senior inspector of the Shivaji Nagar police station.
The victim’s father said, “If I had kept mum my daughter or somebody else’s daughter would become the victim again.”
The Shivaji Nagar police have registered a case under section 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman) against the unknown attacker. He has also been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. When asked whether the man was an employee of the school or an outsider, Agarwal said, “The process of registration of Aadhar cards is being conducted in the school premises, allowing outsiders to enter. As of now, it appears that the accused is not an employee of the school.”
The BMC’s education officer however denied that there had been an incident of molestation, even while admitting that a man had entered the girls’ toilet. “What happened was, a man entered the ladies’ toilet. Scared, the students who were inside at the time started screaming,” claimed RR Bhise, education officer who holds charge of all of the BMC’s 1,148 schools. He claimed that the teachers and staff rushed to the toilet to find that the man had fled. “This happened in the evening, when even parents were in the school premises to fetch their children,” he added.