Yesterday (September 14), a video started making rounds on the internet where more than 100 female students were seen shouting around two men who were arrested by the police. The victims alleged that the two of them molested the students while taking measurements to stitch uniforms. The purported video was from a government residential school, ‘Eklavya’ located in the Khatima area of Udham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand.
The said incident took place between August 22 and September 6, whereas the accused identified as Mohammad Umar and Mohammad Shakil, were arrested on September 12.
A video of the arrest can be seen here:
Uttarakhand: Around 100 girl students at government-run ‘Eklavya’ school were molested by
tailors Mohd Shakil & Mohd Umar.
Case registered, accused have been arrested & booked under sections of the POCSO Act.
— Subhi Vishwakarma (@subhi_karma) September 15, 2023
Both Umar and Shakil are residents of Khatima and have been charged with various sections of the IPC, including section 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman), as well as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (Pocso) Act. Additionally, the services of three teachers have reportedly been terminated.
It is noteworthy that the government-run ‘Eklavya’ school houses as many as 250 Scheduled Tribe (ST) students, including 120 girls. The school administration called the tailors from a hosiery firm to take measurements for the students’ dresses. During the process, the accused inappropriately touched over 100 students.
The girls initially reported the incident to the teachers, but the matter escalated when their concerned parents raised their concerns vociferously. The incident came to the attention of the authorities when the parents of the girls filed a formal complaint with the Khatima police through Rajveer Singh Rana, the president of the Parent-Teachers’ Association (PTA).
According to an inquiry conducted by Khatima SDM Ravindra Bisht into the incident, about 100 girls were inappropriately touched by the accused while taking their measurements, Singh said.
It was all done in the presence of three members of staff of the school who remained mute spectators, the ASP said. In the FIR, the three staff members – Ashok Arya, Mamta Kholia, and Chandrashekhar – have been accused of making fun of the students instead of coming to their rescue.
In response to the complaint, SDM Khatima Ravindra Singh Bisht, accompanied by a police team, arrived at the school.
SDM Bisht reprimanded the staff for their apparent negligence, resulting in the detention of three tailors accused of molestation and three teachers, including the vice-principal, for neglecting their responsibilities.
The ASP said the three staffers were contractual employees of the school whose contracts have been terminated following the incident.
The FIR also said that similar incidents had occurred at the school in the past too but the school staff threatened the girls to oust them if they opened up. The ASP said the school administration is also being interrogated.
Notably, to gather statements from the affected children, female police personnel were dispatched, according to the district’s SSP, Manjunath TC.
“The female students alleged that the tailors were touching them inappropriately. Since both the tailors stood accused during the investigation, they have been arrested and booked under various sections of the IPC,” police told media.
SDM Bisht said, “The DVR of the CCTV camera has been seized, and investigation has revealed that the tailors were guilty of molesting the girls.”
Reacting to the incident, Leelavati Rana, the chairperson of SC-ST commission in Uttarakhand, has called for strict action against the accused.
In addition, Bhuwan Kapri, the MLA of Khatima, has met with school officials and urged the police administration to take resolute measures in the case.