Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Rediff.com
A 16-year-old dalit girl slashed her wrist in an attempt to commit suicide on February 12 at Chotila, Surendranagar district after allegedly being raped twice and molested multiple times over a period of a year by the headmaster of her school.
Unable to take the constant mental and physical harassment, the 16-year-old, a student of class X of Kamal Vidyamandir, a residential school, reportedly slit her wrist with a blade and fell unconscious. Incidentally, a roommate found her and she was rushed to the hospital.
Batuk Bhatti, the headmaster of the school was arrested on February 12 only after massive protests broke out along the Ahmedabad-Rajkot highway with protesters from the Dalit community blocking the road for over two hours and reportedly pelting stones at the school bus and the building.
An FIR was filed at the Chotila police station by the parents after the police informed them about the suicide attempt by their daughter. Both the parents of the victim are labourers and work in Rajkot, about 50 kilometre from Chotila.
In the FIR, complainant, the mother of the victim has stated: “Our daughter (the victim) one of three siblings had informed that she had attempted to commit suicide multiple times before due to continuously being molested and raped by Bhati, her school headmaster. Apart from this, he (Bhatti) also constantly threatened her saying that he would leak her intimate photos and videos taken while raping her in his office and on the terrace of the hostel. She told us the two instances when she was raped – first on December 22, 2019 when he (Bhatti) called her into his office. Bhati then sent the female warden away and threw her on sofa and raped her. The second time was 15 days later when Bhatti asked her to meet at the school terrace and threatened to leak intimate photos and videos and slut shamed her and abused our family. Scared of consequences, she went to the terrace where she was raped again despite her repeated resistance, sobbing and begging him to stop.”
“On February 10, Bhatti called her in his office and sent away the warden to run some errand. He then closed the door and asked her if she wanted something for Valentine’s Day and told her that Februrary 10 was Teddy Day. When she refused, he pulled her by her shirt and molested her. Bhatti then asked her to be ready when he calls her after a while and left for some work,” the FIR stated further.
Bhatti has been arrested and charges of rape and molestation have been slapped under various sections of Indian Penal Code and under Section 5 and 6 of the Prevention Of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and under multiple sections of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
“One girl tried to commit suicide while 17 other girls complained of sexual assault by this man. Our girls have confided that he (Bhatti) used to pull under garments of the girls to check if they are menstruating or faking it,” said an angry parent who has been protesting following the incident.
Advocate Dipika Rathod, who is representing the victim’s family, stated, “We are hoping that the others who have been sexually exploited will come forward and file complaints against the accused and testify in court.
“FIR was filed immediately after local police called the parents. The victim was taken for medical examination and we are yet to receive the results of the same,” said S J Pawar, Deputy Superintendent of Police of SC/ST cell and investigating office of the case.
Last month, a dalit girl was raped and murdered in Modasa taluka of Aravalli district in Gujarat. The investigation in the case is still on.