A week after the headmaster of a government school in Tiruvallur district was booked for the sexual abuse of a 14-year-old student, police are yet to arrest him. Two teams headed by a district superintendent of police and a lady inspector are currently on the lookout for the accused.
53-year-old Bhaskaran, who has been the headmaster of the school for close to a year, allegedly sexually assaulted a young student in a common bathroom. The victim's mother was a cleaner at the school and the girl would stay back and help her mother with her work after class. The school has only one bathroom which is used by the staff, male and female students. On November 11, the headmaster allegedly followed the young girl into the bathroom and assaulted her. The girl then went and complained to her mother, who took up the matter with the school authorities. According to the police, the school failed to immediately approach them with a complaint despite it being a case of child sexual abuse.
"They have approached Childline with the case and the non-governmental organisation escalated the matter to the District Education Officer who suspended the headmaster," says an investigating officer. "But the complaint came to us over a month later on December 22," the officer adds.
The failure to immediately report the matter to the police, the officer alleges, gave the accused enough time to escape.
"He is now absconding after the complaint was filed. We are still searching for him," she says. "He is a divorcee and has no immediate family, so the search there is ruled out. We are trying to trace him now based on his phone signal. We are confident of nabbing him soon," the officer says.
Tamil Nadu Teachers Association President PK Ilamaran condemned the incident and pointed out that besides the incidence of alleged sexual harassment, it was also unacceptable that a government does not have separate washroom facilities for male and female students.
"It is very important that we create safe learning environments for our students," he says. "It is shameful that a headmaster has been accused of sexual abuse."