Saturday, June 3, 2023

Mumbai: ‘Teachers booked for assault not yet arrested’

The police have not made any arrests in the case of the Kandivli pre-school, whose two teachers were booked under the Juvenile Justice Act for assaulting the children there.

While a parent alleged that police told them the teachers have secured
anticipatory bail
, the zonal deputy commissioner said no arrests are required in the case and they are following procedure.

of the kids at the pre-school have also claimed that the accused teachers also would use one tissue to wipe the noses of four-five kids, causing them to fall sick. They claimed most of the pre-schoolers had fallen sick and were admitted to hospitals with high-grade fevers, infectious throat, etc. One of the girls was recently discharged from an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), they said.

A 35-year-old chartered accountant, the parent of one of the kids, registered a First Information Report (FIR) at Kandivli police station against the Rhymes and Rumbles Playgroup’s teachers, Jeenal Chheda and Bhakti Shaha, after seeing multiple CCTV footage grabs showing them being brutal with the preschoolers.

Assaults from before?

The brutal assaults brought alarming behavioural changes in the pre-schoolers, who are mostly between 2-2.5 years old. Though the CCTV footages could be retrieved only between January and March, most of the parents believe that the accused teachers had been assaulting their children even before January. The records are available only for past three months. The pre-school was started in September 2022.

Talking to mid-day, the complainant’s counsel advocate Mrunmayee Chowkidar said, “These teachers – Chheda and Shaha – would often assault the children at the play-school. Though the FIR has been registered under sections 75 and 23 of Juvenile Justice Act, the police have not arrested either of them.”

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“When we asked the cops, why they have not been arrested, the Kandivli police told us the accused teachers have applied for anticipatory bail. How can they do this when electronic evidence has been provided to them?” asked one of the mothers whose boy was assaulted at the pre-school.

Around 30 pre-schoolers had taken admission in the recently opened play school, where the parents had paid around Rs 28,000 for six months.

Aggressive behaviour

mid-day spoke to a number of the parents and most of them had noticed injury marks and bruises on the bodies of their children. “When asked, Chheda told me that my child might have had fights with the other children and got injured. I was convinced but there were many behavioural changes in my baby,” said another mother, whose two and half year old daughter is at the playschool.

“My daughter had become very aggressive and would point her finger while talking to us whenever we tried to mend her habits. It was something very unusual which she learnt at the pre-school. She would often throw her food plates, had become very aggressive and hit her grandparents for no reason,” added the woman.

She further said, “I have learnt that the teachers would assault children for going to the washroom. My daughter would stand in a corner and soil her clothes instead of asking to go to the washroom. This was something very alarming.”

Another woman said, “My child has become so aggressive that he would always assault his grandparents and never mingle with the visitors. He assaults our guest’s children.”

The mothers would discuss the behavioural changes in their children. However, one day the owner of the play school came across Chheda and Shaha assaulting the children. After scanning CCTV footage, the owners contacted the parents of the children who were assaulted by the teachers. Though the CCTV footages they saw were disturbing, the parents maintained calm and called for a meeting with the accused teachers. The owner of the school was not available for comment.

“They did not utter a word when we confronted them to know why they assaulted the children at play school,” said a parent.

“Most of the children were scared to attend the pre-school because of the brutal assaults by the teachers. The accused teachers are seen pulling children’s cheeks while gnashing their teeth, dragging them on the floor by their hands, slapping them, squeezing their noses, etc,” advocate Chowkidar told mid-day.

The zonal Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Ajay Kumar Bansal said, “No immediate arrests are required in this case. As per the Supreme Court guideline, the accused needs to be given notice in a case where punishment is less than seven years. So following the procedure, we have given the 41A (of CrPC) notice to both the accused. Our investigations are underway.”

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