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11 girls raped for more than two years

The girls’ rooms did not have any latches. Some of them are so young that they never realised what was happening.

ABHINANDAN MISHRA  New Delhi | 12th Jan 2013

The government school in Kanker district in Chhattisgarh.

leven tribal school girls in the age group of 6 to 13 years were raped for more than two years by two employees posted at a government run residential school in Chhattisgarh's Kanker district. The accused in the case, the teacher and a watchman, were arrested by the police this week.

According to police officials, the teacher, Mannuram Gota, the watchman, Deenaram would consume alcohol and enter any of the three rooms in which the girls were staying. "Their rooms did not have any latches. Many of the girls are so young that they never realised what the two were doing to them. Later, when senior officials came to know about it, rather than taking any action they threatened the girls," an official investigating the case told The Sunday Guardian.

The sordid tale came to light when the district collector came to know about the incident from the locals. Jhaliyamari, which is a village in Narharpur block of Kanker district, is located 200 km from Raipur.

Speaking to this newspaper, Chhattisgarh Home Minister Nanki Ram Kanwar said that the government has taken strict action against the accused and the officials: "The teacher and the watchmen have been arrested. We have also ordered the suspension of the superintendent and the block education officer (BEO)."

However, according to the Opposition Congress in the state, all the 41 students who were staying in the hostel were subjected to sexual assault. Amit Jogi, son of former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, was part of the fact finding team of National Students Union of India (NSUI), which visited the hostel. "The parents of the girls had complained about the sexual assault to the BEO on 24 November last year, however no action was taken. We found that two of the eleven minor girls are pregnant and the government is hiding this fact. We have also been told that a similar incident has also taken place in a nearby hostel," he said.

On Tuesday, in Kanker, Ajit Jogi presented before the media a woman who claimed that her daughter who was studying in the hostel had died because of pregnancy related complications in August 2012. However, this was denied by Nanki Ram Kanwar: "The collector has already made it clear that the girl in question died not because of pregnancy related complications but because of illness."

The Chhattisgarh government suspended the Assistant Commissioner (in-charge), Tribal Development Department S.K. Vahane, hostel superintendent, Babita Markam and the BEO S.S. Navarji after the offence came to light. "A high level enquiry under a woman IPS officer has been ordered and it has been asked to give the report within 15 days," Kanwar added.

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