Tawde orders probe into strip search

first_imgState Education Minister Vinod Tawde on Monday ordered a thorough probe into allegations that employees of a school in Pune strip-searched female students on suspicion of cheating during the ongoing HSC exams. The school administration has denied the allegations.On Monday, Mr. Tawde met with Pune legislators Neelam Gorhe of the Shiv Sena and Medha Kulkarni of the BJP, who demanded stern action against the administration of the Maharashtra Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Vishwashanti Gurukul in Loni Kalbhor, the exam centre where the incident reportedly occurred. Mr. Tawde tweeted on Monday, “Safeguarding the modesty of our students is always a priority. Accepting the memorandum presented by MLA @Medha_kulkarni ji and MLC @neelamgorhe, assured that the culprits behind the appalling incident at MIT, Loni #HSC centre will be dealt with the strictest of force by the law.”Several students of the school alleged last week that the women security staff forced them to remove their clothes in bathrooms to make sure they were not carrying chits or notes which could be used for copying during exams.Action soughtEarlier in the day, members of Sambhaji Brigade met the Deputy Director of Education and demanded that MIT Vishwashanti Gurukul’s licence be revoked. “This sort of overzealous vigilance is shocking … It resulted in loss of valuable time during the exams, and also caused the students unimaginable trauma,” said Santosh Shinde of the Sambhaji Brigade.Around 250 students are appearing for the HSC exams at Vishwashanti Gurukul, which is an exam centre for the first time. Following complaints, two women security personnel were booked under Sections 354 (sexual harassment) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code and sections of the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act by the Loni Kalbhor police last week.Ms. Gorhe has demanded that the staffers responsible be suspended and that the institute be banned from holding the HSC exam.Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and NCP leader Ajit Pawar have also sought action against the school administration and the guards. School’s sayHowever, Virendra Bawaskar, principal, MIT Vishwashanti Gurukul, has denied the charges, alleging that the students and their parents were doing this to “get back” at his staff for not “permitting cheating” at the examination centre. Mr. Bawaskar said one of the complainants had chits with her, and that the search was conducted in presence of a woman constable.MSCW seeks reportMeanwhile, the Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW) has asked the Superintendent of Police, Pune Rural, to file a detailed report about the incident. MSCW member secretary Manjusha Molavane said, “We have asked for a detailed report, as we learned about the matter through news reports. It will only be fair to have the police report before we take any steps.” Kapalini Sinkar, the public relations officer of the commission, said it seemed like the security officials were at fault. “However, we are waiting for the police report so that we have reliable and valid basis to take any action, and avoid allegations of taking extreme steps based on news reports,” she said.MSCW chairperson Vijaya Rahtakar said, “The commission keeps a vigilant eye on such cases, and it is extremely heartbreaking to know about this case. A security check is mandatory before entering the examination hall, but reaching such levels is simply disappointing. The MSCW will adhere to a strict course of action, but it will be decided after the police submit their report.”With PTI inputslast_img

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