Taking suo motu cognizance of media reports on the alleged stripping of 88 girl students as punishment in a school in Arunachal Pradesh, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued a notice to the State government and HRD ministry.
The State education department has ordered the suspension of a junior teacher and sought the termination of services of two assistant teachers, who were allegedly involved in the November 23 incident at the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya at Tani Happa (New Sagalee) in Papum Pare district. The teachers were appointed by an NGO, which was allegedly running the school without the government's approval, education department officials said.
The NHRC issued a notice to state Chief Secretary Satya Gopal, asking him to submit a detailed report in the matter within four weeks, including the action taken against the guilty teachers and steps taken for the counselling of the victims. It also asked the secretary of the ministry of human resources development to submit within four weeks a copy of the guidelines, which were issued for the protection of students from such maltreatment or humiliation and circulated among the states.
"The sordid act of the school teachers, as reported in the media, is indeed inexcusable. Teachers are highly respected in the society as they play the role of a true guide and protector for their students. Such an inhuman and insensible act cannot be expected from a teacher," the NHRC said in a statement. Stripping of minor girls in front of the entire school was unethical and the teachers, who were their lawful custodians and protectors, had committed a cruel act, it added.
"The right to dignity of the innocent minor girls has been grossly violated and it will definitely take time for them to overcome the trauma," the statement said. Eighty-eight students of classes 6 and 7 were allegedly subjected to the humiliating treatment after a piece of paper, reportedly containing vulgar words about the head teacher and a girl student, was found.
The teachers had demanded an explanation on the piece of paper from all the 88 students, who were allegedly made to undress before the other students by the two assistant teachers and the junior teacher as punishment. The matter had come to light on November 27 after the victims approached the All Sagalee Students' Union (ASSU), who then filed a complaint with the local police. The women police station here registered a case against the disrobing row yesterday.
The police, which had not registered an FIR on a complaint lodged by the ASSU till November 29, as there was no complaint from the aggrieved students or their parents, had sent a team to the school yesterday to probe the incident. "As the case was related to women, it was forwarded to the women police station here. Accordingly, a team of women police personnel visited the school and took statements of the students," superintendent of police (capital) Sagar Singh Kalsi said. He added that the victims had said that the teachers had undressed them partially, following the recovery of the paper containing vulgar words.
"As the victims have given their statement, a case under the IPC and POCSO Act has been registered against the school authorities," the SP said, adding that no complaints had yet been filed by the parents of the students. State education secretary Bidol Tayeng has constituted a panel to probe the incident and the Papum Pare deputy commissioner has been asked to submit a report on it within a week. The state Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan project director has also deputed two officials to inquire into the incident.