Bangalore child molestation shocker: Media apathy even as number of victims increase

A few days back a chamcha of a politician battled another chamcha of the same politician by finally installing a chamcha of a chamcha as a Chief Minister by holding adult elected MLAs as prisoners. This was disgusting charade was enough for the entire national media to head down south and give us a running commentary of what was ensuing.

Not far from Chennai, but still very far from the ivory towers of Lutyens Delhi, in Bengaluru, parents of toddlers are living a nightmare and the coverage given to this incident by national media is almost non-existent.

A 3 year old girl was crying and sobbing to her parents for the last month, saying she did not want to go to her posh private pre-school in Marathahalli, franchises of which are all over the country, including your town. Friday last week, she came home and complained about pain in her private parts. When her parents repeatedly asked her if she had hurt herself, she informed that Manju Bhaiya in her school put his finger in her private parts. Manju Bhaiya, is Manjunath, a non teaching staff working at this plush private school for eight years.

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The parents immediately took the their child to school to go to the depth of the matter. In school, the child identified Manjunath, and recounted the incident five to six times in front of the principal and two other teachers.

If this did not shock you, there is more. The parents claim that when they asked the principal to take action against Manjunath, the principal, the parents alleged, blatantly refused to file an FIR. When finally the parents filed an FIR the principal pleaded with the parents to withdraw the FIR since Manjunath was working there for many years.

If this did not shock you, there is more. This one complaint has opened up a pandora’s box. Several parents have now come forward to reveal the horrors that their children have faced. Six more cases of child sexual abuse have been filed against Manjunath.

The mother of a two-and-a-half year boy said, “For nearly a month, he has been complaining of a pain in his bottom. We gave him deworming medicine…”

Another parent said that his child revealed to him that Manjunath had tried to assault her, and that she complained to a teacher. But the teacher allegedly dismissed the issue and only gave a ‘warning’ to Manjunath to not repeat such actions.

The parent of another 4-year-old said: “Sexual assault is not the first thing parents think of when children say they have belly-ache. After the incident came to light, I asked my child if Manju had done the same with them as well. The response was shocking. My child said that’s what I have been telling you – that my belly is aching. When I asked my child to describe what happened, that’s when I realised that it was sexual assault.”

As a culmination of all this, On Tuesday, concerned parents and child rights activists gathered outside the pre-school. The parents protested and revealed the above tales and more about the horrifying experiences their children had to face.

The parents met the city police chief, who then revealed that the school had not been complying with the safety regulations ordered by the police department following a series of alleged sexual assaults two years ago. The police also revealed that the playschool’s zonal head, Kingston D’souza, principal Veena and a senior official named Praveen were arrested. They have slapped with Section 188 of IPC and have also been booked under various sections of POCSO.

The director of the playschool, which has 160 students in nursery and kindergarten, saidthat the services of Manjunath had been terminated. The director also claimed that the school had conducted background verification of Manjunath and refuted allegations that the school did not cooperate with the parents.

While this case unravels, it is imperative that national media wakes up to this. If not 24×7 updates, it at least deserves a few prime time debates. Such exposure will ensure that nobody goes scot free in this case. Further, the issue of sexual abuse of children needs to be now discussed on dinner tables. Parents need to talk to their children and educate them about what kind of touching is right and wrong.

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