Principal, peon, rector and lawyer of the Bhuj college have been booked for assault, obscenity and criminal intimidation

The National Commission for Women on Friday took suo motu cognisance of the horrific incident at the college in Bhuj where 68 girls were made to remove their underwear to check whether or not they were menstruating.

An FIR in the matter was filed at Bhuj ‘A’ Division police station on Friday afternoon after one of the 68 girls came forward to lodge a complaint against the officials of Sahajanand Girls Institute.

The FIR was filed against Principal Rita Raninga and three others – Anita, an advocate, Naina the college peon, and Ramila who is rector of the girl’s hostel.

Sources in Bhuj confirmed that the four were booked under IPC sections 384 for extortion, 355 for assault with intent to use criminal force, 294 for obscenity, 506(2) for criminal intimidation apart from 509 (outraging the modesty of women) and 505 (3) for statements conducing to public mischief at a religious place.

Police officials said they had visited the college on Friday morning after reports of abuse emerged from the educational institute.

A senior official said they had spoken to the girls in question and had taken their statements. While many of them had the same horrifying story to tell, only one of them came forward to file a complaint against the college authorities.

The senior police official said that the girls had, in their statements, informed the police that the incident had indeed taken place after which they had been threatened by officials to keep it under wraps or their careers would be destroyed.

Currently, all 68 girls have been taken home by their respective parents. However, police said they were prepared to give any and all of them protection if the need arises.

Confirming the development, Bhuj Superintendent of Police Saurabh Tolabiya said, “We have registered an FIR against four persons including the principal, supervisor and two staff members in the matter of outraging the modesty of the girls. The investigation is being carried out by an officer of DySP rank.”

Addressing a press conference, Bhuj Division DySP J N Panchal said, “Mahila police officer and personnel went and spoke with the concerned students and have taken their statements. Police Inspector P H Lagdhirka registered the FIR of the complainant. Currently, we are in the process of collecting CCTV footage and other evidence from the hostel and college.”

Anil Pratham, ADGP of Women and Child Cell, said, “We have instructed the local police to take appropriate action and send a report on the matter at the earliest.”

Three hostel staff suspended, says varsity

Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Verma Kutch University, in a statement issued on Friday, stated, “The university has learnt of the disturbing incident that has taken place in Sahajanand Girls Institute and set up a three-member committee to investigate the matter. Meanwhile, the college has informed us that three staff members have been suspended.”

In-charge for Higher and Technical Education, Vinod Rao who holds post of Secretary, Primary and Secondary Education said that this is serious case of gender violence.

“Looking at the severity of the incident, I have asked Director (higher education) for detailed report on the same,” he said.

NCW and State Women’s Commission

NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma, in a video on Twitter, condemned the incident and said that after consultation with the state commission for women in Gujarat, she had decided to send a team of officials to investigate the matter.

A team from the Naari Adalat Cell of Gujarat State Commission for Women visited the college and spoke to the girls on Friday and reported their primary findings to Gandhinagar.

This team has been stationed on standby as another team of the commission from Gandhinagar HQ headed to Bhuj on Friday evening. They have gone in advance to receive the delegation being sent from Delhi.

Leela Ankoliya, Chairperson of the Gujarat State Women Commission, said, “I have spoken to the SP in Bhuj and they have sent a team to investigate the matter with female police officials. Meanwhile, a team from the commission visited on Friday and a senior level team will also meet the girls on Saturday.”

Condemning the incident Ankoliya said, “We had sent the Naari Adalat team who spoke to the girls and trustees. They are investigating the matter. Such incidents should not happen with women, especially in this day and age. It looks like superstition to us. It wears down the confidence and dignity of women.”

“The NCW has also taken cognisance of the matter,” she added.

I have spoken to the SP in Bhuj and they have sent a team to investigate the matter with female police officials. A senior level team will also meet the girls on Saturday

-Leelaben Ankoliya, Chairperson, SWC

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