For failing to safeguard tribal girls who were gang-raped

Social activist Swami Agnivesh will meet President Pranab Mukherjee here on January 28 to seek the dismissal of Chhattisgarh Governor Shekhar Dutt for failing to safeguard the 11 tribal girls, aged between 5 and 12 years, who were gang-raped and molested for the past two years by a schoolteacher and watchman in a government-run hostel-school for tribal people at Jhaliyamari village of Kankar district.

The Governor had failed in his duty under Schedule 5 of the Constitution by not taking any action or informing the President, Swami Agnivesh alleged.

Talking to The Hindu here on Tuesday after returning from Kanker, he alleged that neither the Governor nor Chief Minister Raman Singh bothered to visit the affected families and console them.

The teacher, Mannu Ram Gote, 24, who was arrested, himself is a tribal.

But for Collector Alarmel Mangai, who took swift action and ensured that the culprits — Gote and watchman Deenanath Nag — were arrested, the issue would not have come out, as the deputy sarpanch, living near the hostel, joined hands with the accused to hush up the case.

Swami Agnivesh said such exploitation of young girls in hostels for tribal students was going on in Kanker and neighbouring areas and the government should take urgent action.

The activist added that of the 43 girls who were studying in Classes 1 to 5, 11 were sexually assaulted and every time the girls were threatened with dire consequences, including death, if they revealed the incident to any one.

Schedule 5 of the Constitution requires the Governors of the States having Scheduled Areas to make annual reports to the President, or submit reports when asked, on the administration of those areas.

Recently, the National Human Rights Commission issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police, seeking reports on the incident.

The police arrested the eight accused, including two teachers and the watchman.