CHENNAI:A private school at Minjur in Tiruvallur district has remained closed for the last four days after a three-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted on the campus by a school van driver on August 29.
The abuse came to light when the child, after returning home, told her parents about pain in her private parts. But when the parents went to the school with the kid and complained to the principal and the class teacher, instead of taking legal action, they tried to pacify the parents and sent them back assuring action against the accused the next day.
As the news spread, the parents demanded action and when the school tried to reopen on Friday, they staged a protest demanding dismissal of the principal and the class teacher. A complaint was also lodged with Minjur police.
Subsequently, the police arrested driver Pal Pandian (30) under section 5 (aggravated penetrative sexual assault) and section 6 (punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault) of the POCSO Act and lodged him in Puzhal Prison.
“The child told parents that the accused followed her to the girls toilet on the ground floor and touched her. The child also identified the accused. So, he was arrested and the child taken to the Government RSRM Hospital for examination,” said a child protection officer.
“A section of parents were angry with the way the school authorities tried to handle the case. They allegedly told them to apply oil or something for the pain and told them that they would take action next day,” said an official.
It is learnt that the school management has suspended the principal and the class teacher. A notice stuck outside the school read, “As principal Selvasakthi didn’t run the administration properly and failed to address complaints raised by parents, she is suspended since September 1.”
On Monday, many anxious parents came to the school to know when it would be opened. “My son is studying in UKG and I had paid fee `15,000. The management should address the demand of parents and open the school soon. Else, hundreds of students will be affected,” said K Shivakumar, a parent.
The parents have been demanding installation of CCTV cameras on the campus and also the driver and the class teacher be dismissed. “We leave our children under the care of the management, thinking our children will be safe. This incident changed our opinion. What is the guarantee that our children will be safe here?” said another parent.
K Ilamparithi, District Education Officer, Ponneri, told Express, “There are CCTVs on the campus, but are dysfunctional. We have instructed the management to repair them by Monday. We will hold a meeting with the parents, district child protection officer and school management on Tuesday. We will try to open it on Wednesday.”
After the incident, the School Education Department has also sent a circular to all private schools in Solavaram, Gummidipoondi and Minjur to employ school bus or van drivers only after submitting ‘good conduct’ certificate. “We have sent the circular to the private schools to make ‘good conduct’ certificate and identity proof mandatory for school bus or van drivers,” said Illamparithi.