Chennai: Nearly two months after more than 100 parents protested outside a private school in Kolapakkam following allegations that a bus attendant had sexually abused kindergarten children, only two parents have registered a case, while others have withdrawn support following threats.
The case filed in July accuses Bhaskar, a bus attendant, of sexually harassing several children and raping one boy. The case came to light when one of the children refused to go on the school bus and confided in his mother.
The complainants claim to be receiving death threats from local leaders and police officers while other parents, some of whose children were victims too, continue to send their children to the school following manipulation and to “protect their children’s image in society,” says Kalpana, a parent and one of the two complainants.
Soon after the protest, a parents-teachers meeting involving no teachers was called for in a public park nearby to discuss the case. “A parent, who also claimed to be an advocate, said that children were lying and that such things could never happen in such a good school.” When the argument heated up, former panchayat president Yesupadam along with another panchayat leader Vasigaran of Girugambakkam, both belonging to AIADMK, entered and dispersed the crowd. Yesupadam denied any knowledge of the incident and said the reason he was present at the meeting was that his daughter studies in the school.
The advocate even visited Kalpana’s father-in-law's house to persuade them to withdraw the case. “My husband’s father is a former superintendent of police. She told him that it would spoil his image in the area,” says Kalpana.
Since then, the school's public relations team has been working tirelessly to convince people that such an incident may not have occurred, says Kalpana. “Another victim’s mother came to me once and asked me to withdraw because they did not want their child’s name to come up,” she says.
The Investigating Officer (IO) of the case is corrupt, alleges V. Kannadasan, the advocate fighting this case. “The inspector of the Poonamallee all-women poli
ce station has been convincing parents that the children may have been able to describe such details after watching pornography or watching the parents in compromising positions. Is that the job of the police?” he asks. When we approached her to tell her that our children are saying there are more men involved, she ignored it completely, says Kalpana. “She brought over 40 photos of accused for the children to identify and kept scolding them to show her who Bhaskar (the attendant) was,” she adds.
The inspector, however, says that she has given her heart and soul to this case. “Nobody in Tamil Nadu would have dug so deep. The case is a complicated one and I have been working day and night for it,” she says.
The doctor who examined the children at the government hospital wrote a false report, says Aruna another complainant. “He said that there was no sign of assault,” she says. When they applied for reexamination, the children were admitted to the hospital for three days, kept in the emergency ward and to sleep near children with extreme ailments.
“The children were not being treated for anything and sent from one government hospital to another in an ambulance, which was completely unnecessary,” she says.
Even the inspector who accompanied them agreed “But the parents said the children were injured in their private parts. That's probably why they needed to be admitted,” she says.
Even when the children were taken to record Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, wherein a witness/victim’s statements are recorded by a magistrate, the children were pressurised by the IO.
“The system is so delayed that the children were only taken for recording on August 4. These children are just four and five years old. By delaying it, we are forcing them to relive their trauma over and over,” says Kannadasan....