On Monday, scores of students from a well known school in Kozhikode launched a hunger strike against the school, one of their teachers and the city police. High school students of the Himayathul Islam Higher Secondary School in Kozhikode's Manachira neighbourhood, sat outside their campus with placards and posters, protesting against the management and police for not taking prompt action against their Botany teacher, a man accused of sexual harassment.
In multiple complaints, the students have accused that the teacher, identified as Krishnan Namboothiri, solicited them on social media, made suggestive comments to students within the school and attempted to touch some of them inappropriately.
Although 31 children from the school directly met the Kozhikode City Police Commissioner and filed complaints against the accused in October 2019, the students now allege that beyond issuing a look out notice, the police have taken no action against the accused.
The school too has failed them by not taking action against the accused teacher, allege students. So far, the management has only suspended the accused teacher.
"Many of our teachers have behaved in a pathetic manner ever since we filed complaints with the police. The students, especially the first bunch who complained to the City Police Commissioner, were ostracised by the teachers. They threatened to not let us enter their classes and to reduce our marks. They were even on the verge of submitting a written complaint against us." one of the protesting students told Asianet News.
Some of the teachers also tried to 'amicably settle' the issue, the students alleged. However, when they refused to comply, one of the teachers allegedly verbally abused them.
"The teachers have been looking at us as enemies. When some of the girls spoke up about the harassment they faced, the other teachers tried to slut shame the girls," the student added.
In October, the Kozhikode Town Police had registered cases under sections of POCSO against the accused teacher. But the teacher went absconding and a look out notice was issued against the teacher later that month.
However, three months later, in January, the accused is still at large and yet to be arrested by the investigating team, prompting the students to launch the hunger strike.
Speaking to TNM, Kozhikode Town Police ASI said that the accused had been 'absconding' and that the investigation was still going on in the case.
"Three POCSO cases have been registered against the accused. In one case, he has secured a bail. We are in the process of investigating and arresting the man who has been absconding," the ASI added.