Bhopal Horror: Top brass of school booked under POCSO over lapses in sexual assault of nursery student

By Express News Service

BHOPAL: Perhaps for the first time, the top brass of a prominent private school in Madhya Pradesh have been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act 2020.

Three top officials, including the prominent school’s chairperson, director (operations), principal and the transport in-charge were booked by the Bhopal police under Section 188 IPC and Section 21 of POCSO Act late on Thursday night, for lapses in the matter pertaining to the alleged sexual assault on three and half years nursery student by bus driver inside the school bus on September 8.

According to a senior Bhopal Police commissionerate officer, the four officials of the school were booked after hours of questioning of around 30-40 staff members of the 2200-students strong school.

The four officials have been found prima facie responsible for non-operability of CCTV camera installed in the bus (in which the minor was sexually assaulted on September 8) and covering up the matter for three days in the name of an internal probe, instead of reporting it timely to the police.

“Though the parents reported the matter to the school administration on September 9 only (a day after it happened in the bus), instead of reporting it to Bhopal Police immediately, the school administration kept on misleading the nursery student’s parents in the name of conducting an internal probe. It was finally on September 12 that the Bhopal Police came to know about the matter after the girl’s parents themselves reported the matter to the cops,” a senior Bhopal police officer said.

Both the accused, the middle aged school bus driver and the female caretaker in the bus, were arrested by police on September 12 only and booked u/s 376 AB and provisions of the POCSO Act.

A special investigation team (SIT) headed by ADCP Shrutkirti Somwanshi has been constituted by the Bhopal Police Commissioner Makarand Deouskar to probe the case, whose probe is being personally monitored by MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The SIT is now working to file a charge sheet in the case before the court within 10 days. 

Meanwhile, a parallel probe into the matter by the MP State Commission for Child Rights (MPSCPCR) has also led to some shocking revelations.

“Not just one nursery student girl, but two more nursery students could have been actually sexually assaulted, as the uniform of two more students were changed inside the same school bus the same day, as was in the case with the sexual assault survivor three and half years old minor,” the Commission’s member Brajesh Chouhan told The New Indian Express on Friday.

“Though CCTV camera was installed in the bus, its Digital Video Recorder (DVR) didn’t have any memory card, meaning there was a digital eye in the bus, but without any brain and memory power. Also, the GPS system of the concerned bus hadn’t been updated. Importantly, it was among the 10 odd buses of that school, whose GPS system was awaiting update,” Chouhan added.

The child rights body whose team spent around 9-10 hours at the concerned school on Thursday, also strongly felt that the bus driver accused of sexually assaulting the minor on September 8, possibly had no prior experience of operating a school bus. Till 2019, he was driving the personal car of some individual in Indore, but after becoming jobless during the covid-19 pandemic, he was helping his father run the family’s tea shop in Bhopal. He joined the school as a bus driver just a few months back only, the child rights body member said.

“Also, the counselling of the girl by the state certified counsellor suggests that the concerned bus driver could have molested/sexually assaulted her previously also. We’re going to write to the Bhopal Police Commissioner for investigating on all these aspects also,” Chouhan maintained.

BHOPAL: Perhaps for the first time, the top brass of a prominent private school in Madhya Pradesh have been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act 2020.

Three top officials, including the prominent school’s chairperson, director (operations), principal and the transport in-charge were booked by the Bhopal police under Section 188 IPC and Section 21 of POCSO Act late on Thursday night, for lapses in the matter pertaining to the alleged sexual assault on three and half years nursery student by bus driver inside the school bus on September 8.

According to a senior Bhopal Police commissionerate officer, the four officials of the school were booked after hours of questioning of around 30-40 staff members of the 2200-students strong school.

The four officials have been found prima facie responsible for non-operability of CCTV camera installed in the bus (in which the minor was sexually assaulted on September 8) and covering up the matter for three days in the name of an internal probe, instead of reporting it timely to the police.

“Though the parents reported the matter to the school administration on September 9 only (a day after it happened in the bus), instead of reporting it to Bhopal Police immediately, the school administration kept on misleading the nursery student’s parents in the name of conducting an internal probe. It was finally on September 12 that the Bhopal Police came to know about the matter after the girl’s parents themselves reported the matter to the cops,” a senior Bhopal police officer said.

Both the accused, the middle aged school bus driver and the female caretaker in the bus, were arrested by police on September 12 only and booked u/s 376 AB and provisions of the POCSO Act.

A special investigation team (SIT) headed by ADCP Shrutkirti Somwanshi has been constituted by the Bhopal Police Commissioner Makarand Deouskar to probe the case, whose probe is being personally monitored by MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The SIT is now working to file a charge sheet in the case before the court within 10 days. 

Meanwhile, a parallel probe into the matter by the MP State Commission for Child Rights (MPSCPCR) has also led to some shocking revelations.

“Not just one nursery student girl, but two more nursery students could have been actually sexually assaulted, as the uniform of two more students were changed inside the same school bus the same day, as was in the case with the sexual assault survivor three and half years old minor,” the Commission’s member Brajesh Chouhan told The New Indian Express on Friday.

“Though CCTV camera was installed in the bus, its Digital Video Recorder (DVR) didn’t have any memory card, meaning there was a digital eye in the bus, but without any brain and memory power. Also, the GPS system of the concerned bus hadn’t been updated. Importantly, it was among the 10 odd buses of that school, whose GPS system was awaiting update,” Chouhan added.

The child rights body whose team spent around 9-10 hours at the concerned school on Thursday, also strongly felt that the bus driver accused of sexually assaulting the minor on September 8, possibly had no prior experience of operating a school bus. Till 2019, he was driving the personal car of some individual in Indore, but after becoming jobless during the covid-19 pandemic, he was helping his father run the family’s tea shop in Bhopal. He joined the school as a bus driver just a few months back only, the child rights body member said.

“Also, the counselling of the girl by the state certified counsellor suggests that the concerned bus driver could have molested/sexually assaulted her previously also. We’re going to write to the Bhopal Police Commissioner for investigating on all these aspects also,” Chouhan maintained.