Ettumanoor: A school employee who exposed the harassment of nearly 100 girl students by a music teacher has been transferred by the authorities to the border hill district of Kerala.
Senior superintendent V Dharmajan of the all-girls' Model Residential School at Ettumanoor Kerala's Kottayam district has been transferred to Munnar in Idukki district after he reported to higher authorities about the sexual harassment of girl students by a teacher at the same institution.
The director of SC/ST Development Department issued the transfer order, citing administrative reasons. Instead Jiji Thomas, senior superintendent of the Model Residential School in Munnar, was moved to Ettumanoor.
Students, parents back superintendent
Dharmajan had taken a stand in favour of the students and this could have riled other teachers and the authorities.
Parents and members of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) protested against the move to transfer Dharmajan. They pointed out that the senior superintendent had taken action as soon as he received the students' complaint. And instead of punishing the accused teacher, the superintendent was taken to task and that this was unfair.
Over a dozen students of the residential school for students from the backward communities had alleged that they were sexually abused by music teacher Narendra Babu. After a police case was filed, he was arrested under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Meanwhile, some students who were targeted by Babu left the school, but they were brought back on Monday.
Though the students and parents had initially complained to the headmaster and other teachers about their ordeal at the hands of the music teacher, no complaint of any sort was made against Dharmajan, the superintendent, by anyone.
The accused reportedly had the support of fellow teachers after he was booked.
A total of 196 children study at the school. As many as 96 students had left the school allegedly over Babu's harassment. Nearly a dozen students returned to the institution on Monday. The students form Chinnar, Kanthaloor and Mankulam regions were brought to the school along with their parents by 2pm in a vehicle of the Forest Department.
PTA members too had also come to the school on Monday.
The parents, on reaching the school, said that the students would not re-join unless the headmaster and the other teachers, who helped the accused, are ousted.
They held talks with Assistant Collector Shikha Surendran, who had also arrived at the school.
She vowed students' safety would be ensured hereafter.
The students agreed to continue their studies at the school after the principal and superintendent gave a written assurance to them that they would not face any more trouble.
Out of the 11 students who are yet to return, three have given application for changing school.
School with 100 per cent success
The Model Residential School at Ettumanoor, started in 2012, has classes from 5 to 10. Students, including those from the Scheduled Tribes from the forest regions from across the state, are studying here. The school even boasts of high-tech classes. It had achieved 100 per cent success in the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) examination.