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Rediff.com  » News » 'Are we waiting for something like Nirbhaya to happen again?'

'Are we waiting for something like Nirbhaya to happen again?'

Last updated on: November 27, 2017 14:04 IST

'My daughter is not willing to go back to that school because she is scared the boy will do something to her again.'
'Unless the school is held responsible for what happened, we will not get justice.'


Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

Ten days after it came to light that a four-and-a-half-year-old boy inserted his finger and a sharpened pencil in the private parts of his classmate in a Delhi school, the girl's mother says the biggest hurdle in getting justice for her daughter is to battle the disbelief that she faces since the accused is so young.

"The biggest hitch with this case is that, when you read about the case, the first thing you think is it is not possible. Keeping in mind the boy's age... People think aisa kaise ho sakta hai (How can this be?)! People think how can this even happen! Yeh disbelief jo hai (it is this disbelief), that accounts for 95% of the entire narrative on the case."

 

"Woh disbelief ko agar mere taraf se dekho, if you stand in my shoes; someone who has seen my daughter before this and after this incident will know the difference in her."

The boy has been accused of committing the acts in the classroom and washroom at the school. He cannot be indicted, according to section 82 of the Indian Penal Code, which says a child under the age of seven cannot be prosecuted.

The girl's mother says the boy's act of unhooking her daughter's trousers and touching her private parts indicates it is not just physical assault, but sexual assault.

"He opened the hook of her trousers and touched her bloomers. It's unusual and untoward because he opened her trousers. It would have been different had he hit her in the eye. I'm not saying he went into penetrative sex. But he put his finger into her, put a pencil into her."

While the boy, she says, needs help, needs counseling, she feels the school should be indicted for being criminally negligent about the security of its students.

She wants the school principal, coordinator and teacher sacked, the boy rusticated and a public apology from the school.

The school, she says, has responded saying a 'committee will look into it'.

"I don't know the boy. He is not my concern. My concern is my daughter. What he did to my daughter is my concern," the mother tells Rediff.com's Swarupa Dutt.

Why do you believe that the school is responsible for what happened?

I don't believe, I am sure.

The school is responsible more than the boy and the school should be booked under Section 26 of the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act.

A case has already been registered under sections of rape and the POCSO Act against the boy.

Do you term what happened to your daughter sexual assault given the age of the boy? Would a four year old understand what he did?

I have no idea whether he understood or otherwise. I don't know the boy. He is not my concern.

My concern is my daughter. What he did to my daughter is my concern.

Whether he understood what he did is his parents' lookout, the school's lookout and his counsellor's lookout. Society's lookout should be what he will become when he is an adult.

I want to make it very clear that I am not hitting out at the boy or want him punished. But he should be counselled.

My intention is to bring the school under the ambit of the law. Bachche ne jo kiya... he is as old as my daughter! But woh jis part pe hit kiya, woh part private hai. Woh part sexual hai. Uska connotation sexual nahin ho sakta hai, lekin he hit her at a part that is hidden.

That part (of her body) is sexual. His thinking is not sexual.

To remove someone's clothing and to hit the person there, that is alarming.

The way his mind works, to remove my daughter's pants, finger her... that is bad, that is perverted.

It is a sexual assault because he hit her sexual organs.

Physical assault would have been if he had hit her on her hand or legs. See, a child will not understand which body part to hit.

But to remove her clothes and assault her, that is a point to ponder over.

Yes, everyone has been saying that a child that age could not have assaulted her with a sexual intention.

I agree it may not have been sexual assault, but he opened the hook of her trousers and touched her bloomers. It's unusual and untoward because he opened her trousers.

It would have been different had he hit her in the eye. I'm not saying he went into penetrative sex. But he put his finger into her, put a pencil into her.

Because it is on her sexual organ, it is sexual assault.

A rod was inserted into Nirbhaya. Are we waiting for something like that to happen again?

How is your daughter coping?

Of course, she is not OK. I want her to meet a counsellor, but it hasn't happened yet.

Yesterday (Friday, November 24) she slept at 1 am and every half an hour she would get up startled.

"Where are you, mamma?" she asks and I tell her, "I am very much here, beta".

I am trying to make her feel secure, happy, by being around her. I've kept everything else on hold to be with her.

There are a lot of legal formalities to complete. I have to keep going out and meet people, but yes, we are trying to get back to normal as much as is possible.

Has she gone back to school?

Not at all. I am on the lookout for a good school for her which follows CBSE guidelines.

Maxfort school has not bothered to follow CBSE guidelines. They do not have a POSCO committee, a sexual harassment committee, a parents-teachers association, and many other things are not in place as well.

My daughter will not go back to the school come what may.

Even if she has to miss a year I will not let her go back there.

And she is not willing to go back because she knows that boy is still there.

She is scared the boy will do something to her again.

The school told me I can send her back as they have changed that boy's section. But a boy who could be so perverted, can't be trusted.

Neither can the school be trusted to take care of my child.

Do you know if the boy has begun going for counselling?

I have no idea. My priority is the school.

But the school has been in denial, the police have been in denial.

See, they know that the boy is around four and a half years old and will not be punishable in any case.

Unless the school is held responsible for what happened, we will not get justice.

I pay hefty school fees, for what? For this?

 
 

A news report said that there is no CCTV footage of the boy entering the washroom. (The girl said she was assaulted in the washroom and the classroom).

I have seen the CCTV footage in the police station. There is footage from 9:51 am to 12:15 pm. But there is no footage from 9 am to 9:51 am and from 12:15 pm to 1 pm.

I don't believe what the police or the school is saying.

If my daughter is saying that it has happened, it has happened!

Now, they are hell-bent on highlighting the washroom part, because that is the only part that is very well covered by the CCTV footage.

Why is the classroom footage not there? Why was one ayah taking care of three classes?

An ayah takes the child to the washroom etc, but should not manage a class.

When we met the ayah, she was completely blank, she had nothing to say.

The grievous injury on my daughter's private parts could not have happened at one go.

The CCTV footage shows she was the last to come out of the classroom because the boy had unhooked her trousers and she couldn't hook it back.

Has she ever complained about the boy at any other time over any other matter?

This was the first time she was sitting next to the boy. Another boy used to sit next to her.

What is your next course of action?

The boy needs counselling, the boy needs help. Woh bachcha bahut hi troubled hai (The boy is extremely troubled.).

The boy should be counselled so that in the future he doesn't become more violent and turn on his near and dear ones. The school needs to pull up its socks.

Do you blame his parents? Do you believe he picked up something from home?

I am not getting into that. I have no idea.

As a mother I don't want to blame somebody's parenting. Humko nahin pata. Woh kya kar rahein hai, kya karna chahiye (I don't know what they are up to or what they should be doing).

Their counsellor should tell them. I'm not here to counsel them. I'm not indicting them nor am I exempting them for what happened.

But I will not exonerate the school because it is at fault.

What are your legal options?

I want POSCO charges to be filed against the school. It happened under the school's jurisdiction, so they are responsible.

My worst fear is that the case will be dropped in a week's time.

The media has lost interest, they are not taking this up. But I don't have a lawyer, I can't afford one.

The biggest hitch with this case is that, when you read about the case, the first thing you think is it is not possible. Keeping in mind the boy's age...

People think aisa kaise ho sakta hai! (People think how can this even happen! Yeh disbelief jo hai (it is this disbelief) that accounts for 95% of the entire narrative on the case.

Woh disbelief ko agar mere taraf se dekho, if you stand in my shoes; someone who has seen my daughter before this and after this incident will know the difference in her.

She starts crying for no reason, she clings to me.

There was a news report saying she has been tutored. Why would we do that?

My daughter is not the kind of person who will cook up a cock and bull story.

She is strong, she is courageous, and she speaks her mind.

Has your daughter given a statement to the police?

On Monday (November 20) I got a call from the investigating officer from the police station asking me to come to court to register my complaint.

When I reached the court I was told to come to the school.

When I rushed to the school I see that the police is already having a nice conversation with the principal.

The first thing the ACP (assistant commissioner of police) tells me is: 'I am not here to sort out the matter. I am not here to compromise', and I thought that's exactly why they are there.

The ACP said his lookout was why the boy did it. I said it was not my lookout why the boy did it. That's his parents and the school's lookout.

My lookout is how it happened. And how could the boy do this in the school?

If I had left my child in the park with a stranger, I would have still accepted it. But you send your child to school and she comes back and tells me "dard ho raha hai, mumma" on her private parts!

Aap ek baar bhi nahi sochoge ki this is what has happened. It never crossed my mind.

Until I examined her myself I would never have believed it could ever happen to my child.

Going back to the question, did your daughter give a statement to the police?

My daughter took the investigating officer around the classroom. She showed her where she and the boy sit in the classroom. And told the IO what the boy did.

Now, the policewoman said she could not understand what my daughter said.

My daughter is well-versed in English and she gave her statement in English to both the IO and the metropolitan magistrate.

Even if they didn't understand what she said, they could understand her actions when she demonstrated what happened to her.

The police have been very negligent in the probe. They should have had a counsellor accompanying the child that day to understand the psychology better and what she was saying.

Police ko pata hai ke hum bhaiyya char saal ke bachche par case kya banayenge (The police know that a case cannot be slapped on a four-year-old child). It will be dropped tomorrow. The FIR is very wishy-washy.

News reports say your daughter looked happy according to the CCTV footage of the day of the incident.

Ask the principal, school coordinator and management that if the child is smiling as shown in the CCTV footage, does it mean that she didn't undergo this assault?

It is belittling the pain that she went through, but had no one to confide in as her class teacher was absent that day.

The school does not have CCTV footage to corroborate my daughter's statement about what happened in the classroom.

The police know they have filed a case against the juvenile so they will not have to pursue it, they will have to drop it.

They did not even bother to ask the school to provide full CCTV footage.

I want to know why aren't there checks and balances in place in the school.

If it has happened to my daughter it could happen to any other child.

They should have been enough manpower deployed on a daily basis to prevent such an untoward incident.

If they were short staffed that day, they shouldn't have held classes.

Don't hand over the responsibility to the ayah.

Her class teacher was absent that day. If she was present, it would not have happened. She (her daughter) would have reported it to her class teacher at the first instance of assault.

That teacher is like a second mother to my daughter. That day there was a new teacher who was missing from the classroom for a very long time.

Is the school waiting for something like what happened in Ryan (International school, Gurgaon)?

This should be a wake-up call for schools everywhere.

Does your daughter want to go to school?

She says she wants to go to school, but not Maxfort. She knows that Maxfort has hurt her.

Actually she did not want to go to school that day.

A few days before the incident, on a Monday (November 13), she had fallen on some potted plants and bruised herself.

So she skipped school on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. I insisted she should go to school on Friday.

She was clinging to my hand. I told her she has to go.

That will always haunt me. Why did I send her?

 

Swarupa Dutt