It has been a month since an 8-year-old schoolgirl and her sister have not attended school, but education is now of secondary importance to the siblings and their parents.
The prime focus of the family is to secure justice to the schoolgirl who was sexually assaulted in the toilet of the Vasco School on January 14. They have been disappointed that the accused is yet to be arrested despite joint investigations by Mormugao Police, Crime Branch and a special 15-member police squad.
The family is also upset because many of their queries have been left unanswered. Besides demanding an explanation for the delayed police complaint after the incident was reported to school authorities, the family is also keen to know who had asked the staff to wash the clothes of the child and why they had done it. The family has also sought to know the findings of the one-person committee appointed by the school to probe the incident.
“One month has passed since my child was sexually assaulted in the school. We have not sent our daughter and her sister to school till now. My daughter is a prime witness and the culprit can easily harm my children as he is still at large,” the victim’s father told Herald.
The father was clearly disappointed with the police for failing to nab the accused. “So far, neither Mormugao police nor the Crime Branch has succeeded in arresting the culprit and they are also yet to book those involved in the lapses. Since the last several days, the Crime Branch has only been carrying out investigations, but is yet to trace the accused. We had pinned our hopes on Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s assurance that the accused would be nabbed, but that too hasn’t happened”.
“I had first filed a case against the school staff and management for their lapses and now, our only hope is on the court in ensuring justice to my traumatised daughter,” said the father.
The investigating agencies and the school management have faced criticism from various quarters for their handling of the incident. While the mystery behind the two seemingly different sketches released by police is yet to be explained till date, the school has been regularly criticised by parents for providing evasive answers to their various queries.
The school management claims to have undertaken a number of steps (see box) to ensure the safety of students in the aftermath of the sexual assault case and also in the interest of the child and her family.
While granting the mother a 2-year childcare leave, the management has also agreed to defray the medical bills of the schoolgirl and will also take care of the girl’s school expenses like uniform, books, etc, till she attains 18 years. The management had also offered a Rs 5 lakh deposit to the girl’s family so that she could use the amount when she attains 18 years for her higher studies.
The Vasco school incident on January 14 had angered the State and had led many schools across the State to review and beef up security in their premises. Moreover, authorities and NGOs had listed various recommendations and guidelines to ensure enhanced security of students in and around schools. [H]