A four-year-old girl was allegedly molested by the conductor of her school bus in Mumbai, but in an apparent goof-up, a case of rape was registered against him, a senior Mumbai police officer said today.
The complaint filed with the police says when the female attendant in the bus was helping other students alight, the child was inappropriately touched by the conductor Ramesh Rajput.
The traumatised girl narrated everything to her parents. They immediately complained to the school authorities who then lodged a case with the police.
"The bus conductor, 35-year-old Ramesh Rajput, allegedly molested the girl in suburban Juhu on Tuesday afternoon when children were being dropped back home," Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh said.
What added a twist to the case was a huge gaffe by the Mumbai Police. They invoked a section of rape in a molestation case.
A case was registered against the conductor after a medical check-up of the girl. He was arrested and charged with rape and molestation under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
"There was no rape or attempt to rape. We are rectifying our mistake," Mr Singh said. "The section for rape was applied in this case by mistake and we are contemplating removing it with the permission of the court," Mumbai police spokesperson Ambadas Pote said.
The school authorities refused to speak on camera but in a statement released by them they mentioned that they are evaluating setting up of mobile CCTVs in the buses and also increasing the number of lady attendants.
But the school bus association, which is now reviewing their security arrangements, say installing CCTVs is not a feasible option.
"CCTV isn't feasible as there are many cases of CCTVs being stolen... we will have a meet with school authorities on how to increase security," said Anil Garg, President, School Bus owner association.
The 9700 school buses that operate in Mumbai are required to adhere to the 2010 Supreme Court guidelines.
The guidelines say:
- The bus owner should ensure the bus must have a bar inside to act as an extra support to the commuters.
- The bus must have a fire extinguisher.
- There should only be one step to climb at the entrance of the bus.
- Woman attendant must travel in the bus till the last child is dropped and should be provided from the school's side.
- The bus employees should be experienced and their antecedents should be checked.
- The bus driver should adhere to a speed limit of 80 kilometres/hour.
The incident has once again brought into sharp focus the need to ensure our children are safe while travelling to and from school.
(With inputs from PTI