Schoolgirl 'rape' in India sparks parent protest

Catholic school officials accused of putting students in jeapordy after girl is attacked by older boy
Schoolgirl 'rape' in India sparks parent protest

Young members of Congress party joined a candlelight vigil on Dec. 7 in New Delhi to protest the death of rape victim in Unnao town in Uttar Pradesh, highlighting the rise in incidents of crimes against women. (Photo: IANS)

Angry parents in northern India have demanded action against the management of a Catholic school after an eight-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted in her classroom on Dec. 13 by an older boy.

The police later arrested the boy and sent him a to juvenile home following a complaint from the principal of the Sacred Heart Convent School, in Amritsar district of Punjab state.

The alleged incident sparked a protest by parents who gathered outside the school gate accusing the management of failing to protect students in the school where more than 3,000 children study.

“We want action against the top officials for their failure to ensure the safety of our students," said one protester.

Another urged school management to tighten security in and around the school.

They also shouted slogans against the school management before being dispersed by police.

School director, Father Lawrence Chittuparampil said he regretted what happened.

“We are still not sure if it was rape or molestation, but the girl told us that the boy searched her bag, grabbed her and touched her private parts”, the priest told ucanews on Dec. 16.

The alleged attack took place in an empty classroom before school was officially about to start, he said.

The girl said the boy searched her under the pretext he was told to do so by a senior school official, Father Chittuparampil said.

When her teacher spotted her crying, she was immediately asked the reason and then taken to the principal who immediately informed her parents and police, he said.

The boy, who has denied the allegation was also handed over to police, added the priest.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Harkishan Singh said a rape complaint had been recorded and that the investigation was ongoing.

He also said police were awaiting the results of a medical examination of the girl.

Responding to the parents’ protest he said such an incident could not be foreseen.

“What can we do when a student in our own school commits such an offense," he said.

“If someone from outside had entered the school and committed an assault, we could be blamed,” Father Chittuparampil said.

“School staff will be more watchful to avoid such incidents in the future," he said.

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