Sexual abuse in Chennai school: Parents allege harassment by cops, officer denies

According to investigating official Franvin Dani, two staff members of the school, Bhaskar and Indira, were named in the charge sheet filed last week.
Sexual abuse in Chennai school: Parents allege harassment by cops, officer denies
Sexual abuse in Chennai school: Parents allege harassment by cops, officer denies

It has been over a month since parents of a young boy who was allegedly sexually abused by the staff at an international school in Kolapakkam, wrote to the Director General of Police, Tamil Nadu. The complainant alleged that the police and the institution were attempting to intimidate the affected parents and dilute the case. The investigating official, Franvin Dani of the Poonamallee All Women's police station, however, denies the allegations. She further tells TNM that there has been no pressure from school authorities during the investigation.

On July 27, the parents of two young boys had approached the station to file a complaint of sexual abuse against the cleaner of the school bus, in which their children travelled. The children are aged four and three-and-a-half years old. They alleged that the children were further intimidated and were told that their parents will be killed if they revealed the abuse.

Following the complaint, the parents claim that the school was attempting to intimidate them and that the police investigation was not satisfactory. To start with, the parents claim that more members of the staff are involved. But the police arrested only two cleaners, who also acted as conductors of the bus.

"We filed the charge sheet last week and we have named only two accused. One is Bhaskar, aged 48, who is the A1. He has sexually abused children. The other is Indira, a female conductor, who has also touched the children inappropriately,” says the investigating official.

“We do not believe anyone else is involved in the matter. The police are not harassing the parents," she adds.

But parents have alleged that police attempted to confuse the children and harass them by showing over 50 photos of school staff multiple times.  "Yes, we showed the children 82 photos of school staff because parents claimed others were involved. Of that, they pointed out to 40 people. How is that possible?" she asks, adding, “This was not done to harass the children.”

In the chargesheet, police have named 60 witnesses, including other drivers, cleaners and other staff members of the school. In addition to this, CCTV footage from the school premises has been attached. The officer further claims that due to the number of witnesses to be examined, the case is likely to take longer than a year to end.

“Parents state that the children were also abused in the school. But CCTV footage shows a very decent atmosphere,” says the officer. “After the incident, the school has even set up CCTVs in over 50 buses that are operated,” she adds.

No intimidation by hospital staff?

Complainants had demanded for a second medical examination after staff at Kilpauk Medical College allegedly termed their case fake and threatened them. "There was no intimidation. Both tests reveal that there were no external injuries around the anus," says the officer. But parents of the children remain unconvinced by the reports.

Cops not involved in bail

Questions were further raised by the complainants' lawyer about how Bhaskar and Indira got bail despite the seriousness of the crime.

“The police is not involved in this,” claims the officer. “They got conditional bail in court. They come, sign in at the police station every day.”

Senior advocate V Kannadasan, who is representing the parents, however, alleges that the police purposely hid information on bail proceedings, despite his repeated requests for information on the matter.

Were more children victims?

While both the families, who have complained, allege that more children were abused or witnessed the abuse, the police have denied it. “We questioned other parents, based on the complaint but they denied it," says the officer.

But what if they were intimidated or threatened? “These are highly educated members of society. How can they be threatened? They could have told me or the magistrate about any abuse. But they stated clearly that their children (girls) were not involved.”

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