Mangaluru: Is school’s image more important than my daughter, asks distraught mother
Mangaluru, Mar 15: The parents of the child who was sexually assualted allegedly by the driver of a school van on Sunday March 15 demanded justice for their daughter and said that they were highly disappointed by the lack of response and support from the school management.
The three-year-old child, and LKG student of Mangalore One school, was sexually assualted on Friday March 13, allegedly by Madhukar Shetty (35), the driver of the Omni van belonging to the school.
Addressing a press meet organized by Samyukta Muslim Jamath, DK district at the hall of Central Muslim Committee in Bunder here on Sunday, former mayor Ashraf who is also the president of the Jamath body, said that the parents of the child came to him seeking support in the matter, and he immediately held a meeting with leaders of the community and some associations to discuss the issue.
He alleged that the school had refused to cooperate with the parents and warned them not to bring police into the issue. “Even after 48 hours of the incident, no proper action has been initiated against the accused. When the parents when to the school, the management asked them not to bring police into the matter as it would spoil the reputation of the school. When the parents insisted that case has to be filed against the driver, the management warned them that they would file complaint against the parents for creating chaos in the school,” he said.
“The management told the parents to file a complaint on their own outside and said they do not want police to visit the school. We strongly condemn this as the school did not support the parents when they were in need,” he added.
He also claimed that the school van in which the sexual assault allegedly took place was tinted, and that the school driver was drunk at the time of the incident.
“When rape cases are increasing, schools have to provide adequate security to students. The van was fully tinted and screened. The driver was drunk while dropping students to their homes on the day of the incident,” he said.
He also lamented the lack of response from the state government to the issue. “The state government has not spoken anything on this issue. The chief minister was in the district yesterday (Saturday March 14, at Puttur) but neither he nor the district incharge minister has spoken on it, which is hurting our sentiments. We demand the district administration to speak out on this issue and take suitable action against the accused.”
He further said, “The medical report by Lady Goschen hospital has confirmed the sexual assault, but the police are not disclosing it to the public. In order to communicate the status of the case to the public, the police should disclose the contents of the report. When we approached the hospital, they refused to let us see the report and said it has already been given to the police.”
He also appealed to the public not to give communal colour to the incident. “Please do not bring religion into this issue. This is matter of a child’s life and justice needs to be done.”
Referring to the tension that prevailed in Ullal and Thokkottu after the incident came to light, he said, “A crowd gathered in front of the hospital in Thokkottu and there was lot of chaos, because they felt that as the victim is from a Muslim family, police will not take action. However, in Lady Goschen hospital premises the same night, the police took adequate measures and nothing untoward happened.
“We demand that the administration takes suitable action against the school management and that justice is done to the child. If not, we will organize a massive protest in the coming days,” he warned.
Mother of the child Zareena was in tears as she addressed the press meet.
Describing the events of the fateful day, she said, “Normally my child comes home by 1 pm as she has only half day school, but that day she came late. She was dull, not eating and sleeping on my shoulder. I felt something was wrong, so I immediately called the school to enquire, but they did not give any information. At around 3.30 pm my daughter wanted to go to the toilet and I saw that she had wound on her thigh and she was bleeding. I knew something was wrong and when I asked her, she told me what the driver had done to her, but she could not explain properly as she herself did not understand it. She said the driver stopped the van at the roadside somewhere and did something bad to her.
“When I went to the school along with my husband to ask about the matter, the management refused to talk to us and told us not to bring police to the school as it would spoil their image. They refused to file complaint against the driver. Is the image of the school more important than my daughter?” Zareena asked.
When asked what the school had to say about the injury to her daughter, she said, “Somebody at the school said she got minor bruises from a plastic chair but she was perfectly fine and was playing after that.”
Zareena too alleged that the driver of the school van was drunk at the time of incident, and so also later in the evening when he was asked to come to the school.
She further said that the school has made no efforts to contact her. “The school officials said that when they went to Lady Goschen hospital they were not allowed inside, but this is not true as everyone was allowed. I did not receive any calls from the school management, and whatever information I have been getting is through some teachers and staff.
“I want justice for my daughter. Today it is my daughter, I do not want this to happen to other children,” she said.
Father of the child Mohammed Rafiq, vice-president of Akhila Bharat Beary Parishad Hameed Kudroli, president of Madoor Jumma Masjid Aziz Madoor and others were present.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that Mangalore One school’s website was hacked but later restored.