Two school managers have been charged by the police for allegedly drugging and molesting 17 tenth grade students in Muzaffarnagar district of the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Authorities have also set up an inquiry against some police officials over allegations that they tried to cover up the incident.
On 17 November, girl students of the 10th grade were reportedly asked to stay overnight for back-to-back practical exams and given food laced with sedatives before they were allegedly molested. Fourteen boys of the same class were not made to take this practical exam.
The police on Sunday registered a complaint on charges of criminal intimidation, intoxication, and molestation against two people — the manager of the girls’ school in the town of Purkazi and another manager of the school that the girls were taken to that night. The culprits have not been arrested even 20 days after the incident.
Raids are being conducted at possible hideouts, police superintendent Abhishek Yadav said in a statement.
— MUZAFFARNAGAR POLICE (@muzafarnagarpol) December 6, 2021
According to the complaint by parents, the manager of the school contacted them on 17 November and told them that they will take the girls to a different school for a practical exam. All 17 girls fell unconscious during the night and returned home the next day.
They were allegedly warned not to talk to anyone about the incident and threatened that their family members would be killed if they did, according to reports.
“We have sent the in-charge of the police station concerned to the police lines and initiated a departmental inquiry against him. We are investigating the case and are hopeful of arresting the culprits soon,” a police officer said in a video statement.
He added that “a probe has been set up against police station Purkazi in-charge over allegations of negligence and the in-charge has been removed with immediate effect”. Authorities are also investigating the role of other police officers.
Parents have alleged that the police filed a formal case only after a local lawmaker of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Pramod Utwal, intervened.
Mr Utwal blamed the delay in registering the complaint and arrests of the accused on the “lackadaisical attitude of the area police” and noted that the students were warned against speaking out.
“The girls are so terrified that they have not gone to school since the night of November 17,” Mr Utwal told The Indian Express. “We will ensure the strictest possible punishment for the accused. If they do not surrender in time, their families will also face the music.”