//Sodomy case: DEO orders inquiry

Sodomy case: DEO orders inquiry

Express News Service. Rajkot, January 16:

The District Education Officer of Jamnagar has swung into action by ordering an inquiry into the activities of Swaminarayan Gurukul at Ranuja Pipava village in Kalawad taluka of the district, where a 16-year-old student was allegedly sodomised by two Swamis for two years. The DEO has also threatened that it would cancel the licence of the school if it was found involved in any other irregularities.

Though the police had arrested accused Swami Madhavprakash and Swami Madavprasad on the boy’s complaint last week, the action by the DEO is said to be a welcome step. For, such incidents had been reported in the past but the education department had not acted.

The gurukul, run by Bhavnagar-based Nayrayan Munidev Education Trust, is six year old and it offers education up to Class X. The two accused Swamis belong to Swaminarayan sect and they were looking after the gurukul’s administration.

While the real name of Madhavprakash is Mangi Ramjibhai, that of Madhavprasad is Magan Barvadia. According to the Class X student’s complaint to the police, he was sexually abused by the two Swamis on a number of occasions during 2004-06. The boy had told the police that inside and outside the gurukul, the sadhus harassed him, threatened to disqualify him from the school and even gave life threats if he did not succumb to their demands.

The medical check-up of the boy by G G Hospital of Jamnagar revealed that the boy had in fact been sexually abused.

The police had arrested the two sadhus under Sections 377, 506(2) and 114 of the IPC. Both the accused are now in judicial custody.

‘‘In the past also, similar cases have been reported when minor boys were sexually harassed by sadhus at gurukuls. In many cases the legal action have been taken against the accused sadhus. But this is for the first time that the education department, in larger interest of the students and also on moral grounds, has decided to take action against the institute where the case has been reported,’’ said V B Bhensdadia, Jamnagar DEO.

Bhensdadia said that inspectors from his department would visit the school and talk to everyone—the victim, his parents and other students—to assess the prevailing atmosphere at the school.

‘‘And if it is found that the school has failed to present the moral values as expected of a school, the department will not hesitate to cancel its licence,’’ said Bhensdadia.

The DEO has already grilled the gurukul on its administrative aspects. ‘‘The school authorities have been asked to submit the details like number of students, experience and qualification of teachers, and number of classes. The gurukul has been given a notice on January 16 and department has asked for the reports within four days,’’ said Bhensdadia, adding that ‘‘any irregularity will not be tolerated’’.