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Ummed Singh Nagal | HENB | Shimla | July 31, 2017:: The alleged rape of a 16-year-old Hindu school student by her Muslim teacher in the Tissa tribal area of Chamba district has taken a communal colour. The police had a tough time trying to prevent a communal clash in the area today, even as Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who had to lay foundation stones for various development schemes in the area, cancelled his Tissa visit.
Around 2,000 Hindu protesters led by VHP (a right wing Hindu Organisation) gathered at Tissa during the day and started advancing towards Kush Nagari, a Muslim-dominated area. When stopped, they pelted the police with stones, which resorted to lathicharge. ASP Varinder Thakur, five other policemen and many protesters, including women, were injured. The protesters damaged houses of members of a Muslim community.
The girl student of Kush Nagari government school had alleged that she was repeatedly raped by her teacher under threat that he would fail her in the examination. After her parents filed a police complaint, the accused was arrested and remanded in judicial custody on July 27.
The teacher was immediately arrested after the victim’s father registered a FIR in the Tissa Police Station.The accused was booked under Section 4 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). As per departmental rules, the teacher was automatically suspended after he remained in police custody for over 24 hours.
As per the version of victim’s father, the girl went missing on the night of July 26. She was found in the fields by a local woman next morning. When inquired by the parents, the girl alleged the teacher had called her on phone and asked to come out of the house. He then, as per the victim’s statement, raped her in the fields.
As per the police complaint, the girl told her father that her teacher was blackmailing her since she was in Class X. As per reports, the girl had shifted to another school after passing Class X but the teacher continued to blackmail her.
The arrest of the culprit Muslim teacher was taken otherwise by his own community. On Saturday, some Muslim miscreants, allegedly egged on by a Muslim Congress leader and Himachal Haj panel chief named Dildar Ali Bhat, entered the school and beat up Hindu teachers. Muslims attacker resented on the suspension and arrest of the rapist teacher and demanded transfer of all teachers of the school as they might know the year long illicit affair of that suspended Muslim teacher on rape charge with the victim Hindu girl.
However, by Sunday, as reported by local sources and administration, the matter was turned in a communal angle with irrate public of the area. Sources said, the Hindu groups protested against the assault on the teachers, gheraoed the Tisa Police Station, pelted stones, and then went on a rampage. Some of them of vandalized the market and set ablaze about half-a-dozen shops/stalls and a PWD rain-shelter. The Deputy Commissioner, Chamba, Sudesh Mokhta said that a mob gheraoed the office of Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) at Tissa too.
Around 2,000 protesters got together at Tissa. All government teachers posted in the area extended support to the agitators and announced to boycott teaching till the accused were arrested. A dharna by teachers was continuing long. Chamba SP Varinder Tomar claimed the situation in the Tissa area was tense, but under control. He said the police had arrested two persons in connection with the assault case. Had the protesters not been stopped from heading towards the Muslim dominated Kush Nagari area, a big communal clash might have erupted, he added.
On Monday, the State unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad came out openly in defense of the assaulted teachers and presented the case with a very different angle. The State President of VHP, Himachal, Aman Puri, in a media statement, claimed it as a case of communal violence in which the Hindu teachers were beaten by a specific group of people with their faith on Quran, Allah and Muhammad. Puri demanded extreme punishment for the rapist Muslim teacher who actually defamed the holy profession of teaching by sexually exploiting his student very shamefully.
The district administration has requested people to beware of communal rumors being spread in relations to the case with possible intentions of triggering riots.
__with Agency inputs.