Parents, who drew comfort from seeing a woman attendant on a school bus, will be rattled.What’s even more chilling, police say it may not be the first time the driver abused this child in the bus. They are investigating his background and if he had sexually abused other kids.
From preliminary probe, police say the accused driver had stopped the bus near Kaliasot Canal Road for around a minute and abused the minor on September 8. Investigators will analyse GPS data to see if driver deviated from scheduled route. Police are taking the help of technical experts to recover CCTV camera footage and GPS data.
भोपाल के एक स्कूल बस में हुई घटना को पूरी गंभीरता से लिया गया है। उक्त प्रकरण में अपराधियों की गिरफ्तारी हो चुकी है… https://t.co/k88hRjjDCH
— Shivraj Singh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) 1663054112000
CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan expressed shock at the incident. “The rape in a school bus has been taken with utmost seriousness. The accused have already been arrested and the crime classified under the category of ‘identified crimes’ so that trial is prompt and strictest punishment is ensured to the guilty,” he said.
Commissioner Makrand Deoskar said it is being investigated why the case was reported to police on September 12 when the matter came to the attention of the girl’s parents on September 8 and the school the next day.
The parents had informed the school on September 9 (Friday) and the child had even picked out the accused driver from a photograph lineup, but neither parents nor school administration reported to police for three days.
CCTV footage deleted
Police are investigating if there was any negligence by the school and will take appropriate action. The delay may prove crucial as the driver has told police that CCTV footage is deleted every four days. When police seized the bus from a workshop, the CCTV camera was not working. Police found no footage, so they are taking the help of technical experts to retrieve it. Commissioner Deoskar said police have sought school’s SOP for changing the clothes of minors. The survivor was wearing the spare set of clothes when she returned from school on September 8 and that aroused the parents’ suspicion.
Police said the child’s clothes had been changed but not her innerwear and no explanation has been received on this. The accused woman attendant had told the school management that she changed the girl’s clothes as she had spilled water on herself. Her clothes have been sent for forensic tests.
Additional DCP (women safety) Richa Choubey said statements of the girl’s parents were recorded in court on Tuesday. The child’s statements are yet to be recorded. Police are also checking if the girl was alone on bus when the incident took place as hers is the second-last stop. Investigators plan to recreate the crime.
SDM Kshitij Sharma said the house of the accused driver was an illegal construction. It was razed by a joint team of district administration, police and Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC). Mahila Thana police produced the driver and woman attendant in court, which remanded them in a day’s police custody.
(The victim’s identity has not been revealed to protect her privacy as per Supreme court directives on cases related to sexual assault)