Published: 27th November 2019
14 students in this Kerala tribal school were sexually abused by a teacher for four months
The teacher Narendra Babu was arrested by the police and 14 separate cases were filed against him
Even before the people of Kerala could get over the Walayar child sexual abuse case, something similar has occurred in a tribal residential school in Kottayam. The Ettumanoor police have filed 14 separate cases under the POCSO act against a teacher at the Model Residential School Ettumanoor for allegedly sexually abusing 14 minor students. The teacher, who Narendra Babu is currently under remand was reportedly abusing the students over a period of four months. All of these students belong to tribal families across Kerala.
Sources close to the students' parents allege that there was a deliberate delay in registering the case, as a few teachers tried to brush the issue under the carpet. "The parents could visit the students only once in two weeks since it is a residential school. When the abuse persisted, the students initially tried to tell the other teachers, but they were told that Babu was doing so 'out of love'," says tribal activist Dhanya Raman. "The parents then approached us to file the complaint. In fact, the parents say that the other teachers are to be blamed too for not reporting the abuse for a long time," she adds. "The students haven't been attending the school for a while now. But we're trying our best to bring them back at the earliest," she says. The school authorities weren't available for a comment on this issue.
Dhanya notes that POCSO cases are on a rise in the state, especially in the residential schools under the Scheduled Tribes Development Department. "Recently, a similar incident had occurred at the Dr Ambedkar Vidyanikethan, CBSE School Njaraneeli, which is the only CBSE residential school under the department. Here, students were inappropriately touched by the school librarian," she says. On the other hand, she observes that more students are opening up about cases of abuse. "A few years ago, there were times where we had to register more than 1000 cases in a go. That isn't the case now," she says.
PK Sudheer Babu, Collector, Kottayam says that a high-level meeting was conducted post the incident to ensure that the students are safe in the school. "As soon as the school's Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) President filed a complaint, I'd asked an assistant Collector to investigate the issue. Soon after, a complaint was filed and the said teacher was arrested," he says, adding that this was only an isolated incident. "We have been conducting various programmes to ensure that the students are safe in the schools. This incident is entirely the teacher's fault," he says. Until October 2019, 2834 cases under POCSO were filed in various police stations in Kerala. The number was 3179 in 2018.