Residential school shame: NHRC issues notice; Opposition turns heat on Odisha government

Bhubaneswar: The incident of a class-VIII girl student delivering a baby inside a state-run residential hostel has raised serious concerns over the security of the girl students. Highlighting the same, several opposition parties today targeted the Odisha government and demanded action against the concerned minister, secretary and the district collector. Moreover, taking suo motu cognizance, NHRC today served notice to the Odisha Chief Secretary seeking a detailed report within 4 weeks on action taken against the guilty and relief/ rehabilitation as well as counselling provided to the victim girl.

Condemning the incident, senior leader Damodar Rout alleged that women are not safe under BJD rule. Neither the administrative officials nor the political leaders are concerned over the rise in crime against women in the State, he added.

“If CM Naveen Patnaik is concerned, he should resign on moral grounds or should immediately sack Women and Child Development minister Prafulla Mallick,” said Rout.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Niranjan Patnaik demanded resignation of SC and ST development minister Ramesh Majhi.

Former Kendrapara MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, who has been demanding action to curb crime against women in Odisha, also expressed concerns over the Kandhamal incident.

“A year after the headmaster of a girls’ school in Koraput dist was arrested for allegedly raping & impregnating a student. In 2015 over 20 cases of teen pregnancies in tribal schools were reported. Since 2014 Odisha has seen a huge surge of crime. Time for change!” tweeted Panda.

SC and ST development minister Ramesh Majhi on the other hand informed that already Odisha government has dismissed six persons and suspended four others in connection with the incident.

“Security of students is top priority for the Odisha government and efforts are on to install Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in 1,000 hostels, mostly girls’ hostels across the State,” said Majhi.

Both the student and her newborn were rushed to the hospital yesterday. However, the newborn died while undergoing treatment at Berhampur MKCH hospital today.

It is pertinent to mention here that the incident of a schoolgirl delivering baby at a residential hostel at Daringbadi had triggered massive unrest in Kandhamal with irate locals staging demonstrations.

While three assistant superintendents of the school were suspended, 1 health worker (ANM) and 2 matrons were dismissed yesterday. The headmistress of the residential school was suspended today.

Reportedly after the delivery, the girl along with her newborn baby was driven out of the hostel and forced to take shelter in jungle. Both were traced with the help of local police on January 13 and admitted to hospital.

Taking note of media reports, the National Human Rights Commission has asked Odisha government to provide all details including the sections under which the FIR has been registered as the girl belongs to Scheduled Tribes.

Moreover, the Commission has also sought information regarding the status of statutory relief provided as per provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995.

“As soon as the matter came to notice, FIR was registered and the accused was detained and subsequently arrested,” said DIG (Southern range), Ashish Singh.

Mahila Congress leader Sumitra Jena on the other hand demanded compensation of Rs 10 to Rs 15 lakh for the victim.

“The newborn has died and the family is not being allowed to meet the girl. We demand that Odisha government should announce compensation or else Mahila Congress will resort to agitation,” said Jena.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan alleged that, “Be it Pipili or yesterday’s Kandhamal incident, Odisha government has become insensitive to atrocities against women.”