Jind school teachers were ‘non-vigilant’: Probe report - Hindustan Times

Jind school teachers were ‘non-vigilant’: Probe report

By, Chandigarh
Nov 25, 2023 08:50 AM IST

There can be individual lies but not a collective lie when 50-odd children are stating this fact... there appears to be a strong possibility of the staff being complacent and wilfully oblivious to misdeeds of the Principal

The teachers of Jind school, where scores of girl students were repeatedly subjected to alleged sexual harassment by the accused principal, were also “nonchalant and non-vigilant” towards the safety of the students and “remained diplomatically neutral,” a three-member probe panel of Haryana education department has said in its seven-page fact-finding report.

Kartar Singh, principal, was posted in this school from September 8, 2017, and continued till his suspension on October 28, 2023.
Kartar Singh, principal, was posted in this school from September 8, 2017, and continued till his suspension on October 28, 2023.

The committee headed by Amrita Singh, additional director and Haryana Civil Services (HCS) officer comprised Namita Kaushik, joint director, and Harita Malika, assistant director.

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The all women panel visited the girls’ school on November 16 and held a discreet inquiry into the allegation against Kartar Singh, principal of the school, who is now in judicial custody.

Also present during the visit were four other senior education department functionaries of Jind district, teaching and non-teaching staff of the school, girl students and their parents.

“But here, what the inquiry officials witnessed was robotic and stony silence from the teaching staff. The staff somehow chose not to come forward and tried to be diplomatically neutral is beyond reasoning,” says the report (HT has the copy), pointing out that the school staff was “insensitive and apathetic to the whole episode” even as teachers also have a moral duty of safeguarding the interest of the student. “This aspect was found to be missing in the staff posted in the school.”

The panel has recommended a probe into the role of one woman teacher who was recently transferred and is reported to be a close associate of the principal, who used to inspect classrooms in the absence of teachers and “caress the students in their back up to waist”, besides resorting to “indecent talk and inappropriate touch.”

Kartar Singh, principal, was posted in this school from September 8, 2017, and continued till his suspension on October 28, 2023. Few teachers have been working since 2009 in this senior secondary school where 218 students were in the primary wing and 714 in the secondary wing.

The report says, “The conduct of the principal as gathered from students has been found to be of a paedophile who very cautiously carried out his misdeeds by targeting vulnerable adolescent girls in the age group of 12 to 15 years.”

The report says that the principal used to call students to his office for making the payment under the ‘Chhatra Parivahan Scheme.’

All the regular, contractual and guest teachers posted since 2009 till 2023 were inquired by the inquiry team in the presence of the district officials and most of the teachers chose to maintain silence on the whole matter.

However, a section of the teachers revealed that the principal behaved in an indecent manner with the staff and that due to this most of the staff members had limited their visits to the office of the principal.

The inquiry team was informed that the principal either checked classes in the absence of the teachers or simply walked through the corridors. Not a single teacher confirmed the classroom checking in their presence. The same fact was corroborated by the students.

To ascertain the veracity of the allegations, the inquiry team spoke with some of the girl students (13- 16 age group) who have recorded their statements under Section 164 CrPC.

Almost 25 to 30 girls were also enquired by the visiting officials in private about the allegations against Kartar Singh. All the girls told in unison that the principal has been notorious in his behaviour towards the girl students. One thing common in the statement of all the students is that the principal always inspected the classroom in the absence of the teachers “wherein he used to caress the students in their back up to the waist...”

When the panel asked the students whether they ever shared these misdemeanours of the principal with any of the teachers posted in the school, the students said “yes”. But teachers “out rightly refused” having any knowledge about such happenings in the school. The students deposed that the teachers used to tell them not to visit the principal’s office alone where the door had a black glass.

“Having filmed glass in the girls school raises strong suspicion especially when the principal had a habit of calling students to his office,” the report says, adding senior officials of the district and the block level never took cognizance of this black film door during their inspections to the school.

“It is a strong possibility that the senior functionaries rarely inspected the school,” says the inquiry panel that has held that “allegations so levelled against Kartar Singh are found to be true and plausible.”

The report says the testimony of 50 students cannot be simply taken lightly and does strongly point to indulgence of Kartar Singh in acts of “sexually harassing” the girl students.

As per the report , it is beyond comprehension as to why teachers did not come forward despite the students telling that the teachers used to advise them not to visit the principal office alone. “There can be individual lies but not a collective lie; if 50- odd children are stating this fact in person to the inquiry officials, then, there appears to be a strong possibility of the staff being complacent and wilfully oblivious to misdeeds of the principal,” the report says.

Four Class 8 girls stated that on the pretext of giving school belts and uniforms, principal Kartar Singh called them to his office and grabbed them by waist. He tried to hold them close to his chest with force. One girl said the principal pulled her cheeks and tried to bring her face near his face.

Six Class 11 girl students stated that they had gone to meet the principal with the complaint of their money being stolen. Principal asked only one girl to stay in his office and directed others to wait outside. The girl, who had stayed inside, later confided with her friend about the indecent talk as well as inappropriate touch by the principal

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