BHUBANESWAR: A spate of cases involving sexual assault on students at the hands of school authorities has prompted the School and Mass Education Department to seek corrective measures to prevent such crime from being perpetrated in educational institutions of the State.
The department has written to all its wings, including Directorates of Secondary Education and Elementary Education, Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyaan (RMSA), to chalk out plans to be taken to prevent such crimes by teachers, headmasters and staff of schools.
In fact, the department action came after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) took serious view of such offences in the State. The rights panel has asked the Chief Secretary to intimate corrective steps being initiated in this regard.
In fact, the NHRC had taken cognisance of a case - after a petition was filed by rights activist Subash Mohapatra - over sexual harassment of a 10-year-old girl student of a Government school in Saipriya Nagar of Rayagada by the headmaster in 2013.
Following the NHRC’s notice, the SP had submitted a report stating that the headmaster, Panchanan Palak, was arrested. Later, a detailed report of the School and Mass Education Department showed that Palak was chargesheeted and subsequently, convicted for the crime. He was handed out a three-year imprisonment. The victim and her father, however, had shifted from the area to an unknown destination by that time.
However, the petitioner submitted a letter earlier this year stating that though the headmaster was convicted, the department had not removed him from service. Similarly, no monetary relief was given to the girl.
Mohapatra also alleged that a large number of similar cases has been reported from the State where both boys and girls are subjected to such crimes but no corrective measure is taken by the Government.
Expressing concern that custodians of the schools have resorted to such crimes which not only discourage the children but also their parents from sending them to school, the NHRC ordered `1 lakh compensation to the victim and asked the Chief Secretary to intimate what steps have been taken to prevent such crimes in schools.