Police on Monday, 17 February, arrested four persons, including the principal of the Gujarat college where authorities allegedly forced over 60 girls to remove their undergarments to check if they were menstruating a week ago, an official said.
The arrests were made after the police filed an FIR against them for the 11 February incident at Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute (SSGI) which caused public outrage.
Earlier during the day, the college authorities had suspended its principal, hostel rector and peon.Principal Rita Raninga, girls’ hostel rector Ramilaben and college peon Naina were suspended on Saturday after the FIR was registered against them, Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute (SSGI) trustee Pravin Pindoria said on Monday.
Apart from these three, a woman, identified as Anita, who is not associated with the college, was also named as an accused in the FIR lodged by Bhuj police.
The accused have been booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 384 (extortion), 355 (assault with intent to dishonour a person) and 506 (criminal intimidation).
No one has been arrested so far.
SSGI is a self-financed college, having its own girls' hostel. It is run by a trust of the Swaminarayan Temple, Bhuj, according to PTI.
The college is affiliated to the Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Verma Kutch University.
‘Sought Permission of the Girls’
Earlier, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had said that the government took the incident very seriously and issued orders to home department and education department to take strict action.
The National Commission for Women on Friday, 14 February, said they have taken suo-moto cognisance in the matter and have set-up an inquiry team to visit and speak with the students.
On the same day, the Gujarat State Women Commission (GSWC) also ordered the state police to carry out a probe regarding the incident, reported ANI.Earlier, the institute’s dean, Darshana Dholakia, said that the matter was related to the hostel and the “permission” of the girls were sought.
“Matter is related to hostel and has nothing to do with university or college. Everything happened with girls' permission, nobody was forced for it. Nobody touched them,” said Dholakia.
An inquiry team has reportedly been formed to look into the matter.
Speaking to The Times of India, a student who was asked to strip, said that it was “sheer mental torture and had no words to describe it.”
What Triggered the ‘Inspection’
The FIR was filed after one of the 68 girls who were forced to strip, came forward to register a complaint.
According to the newspaper, a soiled sanitary napkin was found in the garden inside the hostel premises on 10 February. Suspecting one of the girls to have “thrown it”, the hostel authorities wanted to “find the culprit.”
While two girls confessed to it, the hostel wardens and the principal insisted on them stripping.
The hostel mandates that girls shift to the basement when they are menstruating, use separate utensils and sit in the back bench of the classrooms, the report said.
Statement by Gujarat Mahila Manch
Gujarat Mahila Manch has released a statement, condemning the incident, saying that it “clearly violates the basic rights of young women...causing them mental trauma”, adding that it “amounts to sexual harassment”. Pointing out that the incident reinforces the “redundant and unscientific idea of women being dirty while they menstruate”, the statement also says that at an educational institute where the girls are under the custody of such a warden, “their safety is clearly compromised”.
The group also called for strict action to be taken against those involved in the incident, demanding that immediate actions be taken on the FIR, as well as removal of the warden and counselling for all the affected girls, among others.
(With inputs from PTI & ANI.)