By Ila Ananya
On 31st January, Kumar Thakur, the principal of Kendriya Vidyalaya in Sadashivnagar, Bangalore, was arrested under the POCSO Act for sexually abusing and harassing girls in the school. He had been arrested on the campus, and was produced before a city court that remanded him in judicial custody. Now, not only is he out on bail, but Thakur has also been miraculously transferred to a school in Karwar, with no suspension.
While some papers have reported that Thakur was arrested after a call to ChildLine 1098, and the ChildLine authorities registered a complaint, some others, like The Indian Express have reported that Thakur was arrested after receiving a letter from Vasudeva Sharma, of the Bangalore ChildLine Nodal Centre, a child rights trust. In his letter, Sharma reportedly wrote that the principal had been sexually abusing and harassing girl students, particularly girls studying from classes 10 to 12, over the last three years, sometimes sending them messages on WhatsApp. Some of the women teachers (who want to remain anonymous) on campus even accused Sharma of showing them obscene photos and making sexual statements.
Despite all this, and the fact that the law requires the accused to be suspended until the investigation is completed, how has Thakur only been asked to go on leave and transferred to the Karwar Kendriya Vidyalaya? Bangalore Mirror reports that a senior representative had confirmed this, stating instead that they wanted to “allay fears of the staff and students and a detailed inquiry has been ordered into the allegations”. Bangalore Mirror also went on to report that the school had no ICC, but a grievance cell — headed by the principal.
But there are all kinds of questions: why did the school take three years to report this case? The Ladies Finger had also previously reported, on the use of the POCSO Act if families and schools don’t report child abuse. And why has procedure been flouted at every turn, compromising the safety of more students and teachers in a new school? Why has no action been taken against this?