Kerala

Councillor absconding as school alumni allege sexual abuse

A group of alumni of St. Gemma’s Girls Higher Secondary School here accused a CPI(M) councillor of the Malappuram municipality of sexually abusing them for many years when he was their teacher at the school.

K.V. Sasikumar, the councilor who retired from service in March, has been absconding after the police registered a case against him under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

District Police Chief Sujit Das S. said that the case was registered on the basis of a complaint filed by a former student of the school. He said the police were searching for him.

The alumni group led by Beena Pillai, a lawyer, accused Sasikumar of abusing and even raping dozens of girls when they were between nine and 12 years of age. The teachers and the school authorities were learnt to have turned a blind eye when the girls complained.

“The teachers used to tell the girls not to flirt with him whenever they complained. It is quite serious. He is learnt to have abused dozens of girls over these years,” said Ms. Beena.

Sasikumar’s victims have formed a collective using the social media platform and began a campaign against him. It all began with a social media post he made when he retired in March. His post portraying himself as an ‘ideal teacher’ received negative comments from his former students who called him a “paedophile”.

Like the Me-Too movement, dozens of students who had been sexually abused by him over the years joined hands and raised a banner of protest here. “It’s not vendetta against Sasikumar. We have such abusive teachers lurking on our campuses. It’s a movement against them,” said Ms. Beena.

She said a complaint had been filed against him in 2019 but no action was taken. “The school has been known for its discipline and academics; but it has failed miserably in protecting its students,” she said.

She said there were several cases of aggravated sexual assault involving Sasikumar. Two girls had been on the brink of committing suicide, and one girl had to be hospitalised, she said. “Our kids fail to distinguish between love and lust. That’s why he continued his abuse for years on end,” she added. She said many victims were reluctant to come out because of family constraints.

Meanwhile, several groups staged protests here on Thursday demanding the arrest of Sasikumar. District Congress Committee president V.S. Joy demanded that a special investigation team be constituted for a comprehensive inquiry. “What came out is just the tip of the iceberg. It is a serious thing,” he said.

The Muslim Youth League, the Youth Congress, the Welfare Party of India, the Fraternity Movement, and the Vanitha League took out marches here and demanded that a case be registered against St. Gemma’s school management under the POCSO Act.


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Printable version | May 13, 2022 12:51:46 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/councillor-absconding-as-school-alumni-allege-sexual-abuse/article65408245.ece