Convent school principal denies student’s “molestation”

By Matters India Reporter

Sambalpur, July 20, 2019: Principal of a convent school in Odisha has denied reports that a third grade girl was allegedly molested inside her institution.

“We have studied the matter thoroughly along with the child’s parents. Nothing of that sort has happened in the school,” Sister Anjana Therattil, principal of St. Joseph’s Convent Higher Secondary School in Sambalpur city, told Matters India on July 20.

A day earlier, reported that the parents of the students protested in front of the school demanding safety of their children inside the school premises. The website also reported that the protesters wanted the school authorities to coordinate with the police probing the alleged incident.

According to the website, the tension arose after the Sambalpur edition of a leading newspaper reported about the molestation and that the school authorities tried to suppress the matter.

Sister Therattil, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery congregation that managed the school, denied the parents had protested, but accused a local politician of bringing goons to create problem for the school. “No parents were in the crowd,” she asserted.

She also alleged that the politician, who had unsuccessfully contested the recent general elections, was trying to exploit the situation to boost his political prospects. The trouble started after his son failed the twelfth grade this year and the boy accused the school of failing him. “He was undisciplined and never bothered to do his school works. He came to me earlier this week and threatened to raise the molestation case,” she added.

According to the principal, the girl’s parents had met her on July 15 when the school reopened after a long holiday. “The mother, an alumnus of the school, told me that the child was frightened to come to the school. We checked footages of CCTV cameras kept all over the school premises, but found nothing,” she explained. They also took the child around to see if she could identify her alleged molester.

Even the police have refuted the report saying no such allegation has been made so far, the website reported.

They police, however, picked up two men who have worked in the school for more than 15 years.

The principal said the police could not find anything to link them to the alleged incident.

“Even the child’s parents have agreed that it apparently is a case of hallucination,” the nun explained.

According to local newspaper reports, the child was molested by a mason and a worker twice inside the school for the past 15 days.

The incident came to fore after the victim hesitated to go to school and narrated the nightmare to her parents.

The girl was reportedly molested when she had gone for toilet at the school 15 days ago, the reports said.

The website said the incident had repeated after the child went to school on July 15. Reports said the same person molested her when she went to the toilet. The victim disclosed the matter to her parents when they asked her the reason for not going to school.

Sister Therattil said the politician has raised several allegations against the school such as occupying illegal land and indulging in conversion activities. “He had no answer when I asked him for evidences,” she added.

Sambalpur, one of the largest and oldest cities of Odisha, is some 280 km northwest of Bhubaneswar, capital of the eastern Indian state.

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