Principal detained in rape case

Probe reveals Savita Gulati ignored complaints against teacher accused of rape

December 13, 2016 11:31 pm | Updated 11:31 pm IST - Navi Mumbai:

Parents and people gather in huge number at MGM School Nerul to protest against a absocnding teacher accused of raping a 12 year old girl studying in the same school at Nerul, Navi Mumbai.

Photo: Yogesh Mhatre

Parents and people gather in huge number at MGM School Nerul to protest against a absocnding teacher accused of raping a 12 year old girl studying in the same school at Nerul, Navi Mumbai.

Photo: Yogesh Mhatre

Savita Gulati, the principal of Mahatma Gandhi Mission School in Nerul, was suspended by the management and later detained by the Nerul police after parents staged a five-hour-long protest over inaction over a rape case.

On September 29, a case was registered against Harishankar Awadh Shukla, an English teacher at the school and a resident of Koparkhairane, for allegedly raping a 13-year-old Class VII student. The incident came to light when the victim complained of stomach ache.

On September 28, medical tests confirmed the girl was pregnant. However, the police neither arrested the accused nor took any action against the school management. On Tuesday, angry parents and residents reached the school demanding suspension of the principal and death sentence for the teacher. But policemen stationed at the school prevented them from entering the premises. Shiv Sena MP Rajan Vichare and NCP workers took part in the protest.

Objectionable behaviour

The parents alleged that Shukla, who taught students of Classes V, VI and VII, would indulge in indecent conversation with students and show them objectionable pictures on his mobile.

Hema Paude, mother of a Class IX student, said a year ago her son had complained that Shukla told them vulgar stories in class. Ms. Paude said, “Shukla told them a story of a woman who wore a dress made of leaves and how a goat ate all the leaves. He named a character who stared at the naked woman after my son and it disturbed him a lot. I complained to his class teacher, but no action was taken.”

Chetna Singhvi, mother of a Class X student, said, “My daughter being the head girl was approached by many students who complained that Shukla often showed them vulgar images on Facebook. During free time, he would ask the boys in class to write the spellings of words like ‘sex’, ‘blouse’ and ‘petticoat’, which are unnecessary.

“A group of parents approached the principal several times and complained about Shukla’s behaviour. But she paid no heed. She often made parents wait for hours and later refused to meet them. Students are now embarrassed to admit that they study in MGM School.”

The parents also alleged that Shukla visited the school last Monday, but the principal did not inform the police about it. The Navi Mumbai police has dispatched four teams to different places in north India to nab Shukla.

Meanwhile, the father of the victim has alleged that the school management offered him money to withdraw the case. He said they offered to pay Rs. 50 lakh to Rs. 1 crore and provide free education to his daughter till she completed an undergraduate degree in law.

He said, “The school management tried hard to negotiate. But it was a question of justice for my daughter. She is traumatised now. I can’t even face her.” He also said that Assistant Police Inspector Vasudev More had dropped hints to take back the case. “If he had done his duty, Shukla would have been behind bars now.”

Lapses in probe

Inspector More was suspended on Monday for shoddy investigation. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Nitin Kausdikar is looking into the lapses. The Crime Branch’s Unit-I is now in-charge of the probe. Deputy Commissioner of Police Prashant Khaire said, “We have detained the principal. The probe has revealed that she was aware of Shukla’s behaviour and yet protected him. We will arrest her.”

Notice issued

The Education Department of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation has issued a notice to the school management under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

The management has been given three days to submit a report of the action taken in response to the incident, which is mandatory according to Section 19 of the Act. Else, they will face legal action, said Education Officer Sandeep Sangave.

The writer is a freelance journalist

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