Four girls of the primitive Paharia tribe were abducted from their missionary residential school and gang-raped by a group of over two dozen masked men in Pakur district late night yesterday, in a chilling reminder of how unsafe Jharkhand has become for schoolgirls.
Unlike the student victims of Jasidih, Deoghar, all the four girls of the residential school at Labda village, 5km from Littipara police station and some 30km from district headquarters, have survived the ordeal. They have been hospitalised.
Around 11pm yesterday, around 25 or so men, wearing masks and armed with knives and iron rods, broke into the residential school-cum-vocational training centre run by the Evangelical Church of India.
The kutcha building of the missionary cradle in the hilly, forested and rebel-hit village, with 135 students, including 60 boys, is easy prey for trespassers, as it has no security apparatus.
Moreover, there is no human habitation for across 500 metres of the school. So, no one offered any resistance to the intruders, who quickly gagged and bound the lady warden and four male teachers present at night, before making off with the four hapless girls.
The girls, between the ages of 12 and 14 years, were gang-raped for over two hours in bushes some 200 metres away from their school. When the intruders left after 1am, the girls somehow limped back to the school.
Owing to twin factors of geographical isolation and panic, the school management informed the police only in the morning. The new Pakur superintendent of police (SP), Y.S. Ramesh, who was appointed after Amarjit Balihar’s death at the hands of Maoists on July 2, came to the school around 8am.
The girls were sent to Pakur sadar hospital for medical examination where they are still admitted. Their condition is serious but stable.
SP Ramesh, who also held a meeting with villagers of this tribal stronghold to get possible leads into the probe, said no effort would be spared to nab the guilty. “It is a gruesome crime. Raids are on to nab the culprits,” he told reporters in the morning.
“An FIR has been lodged against the group based on the statements of the girls,” Shwetlal Ram, officer-in-charge, Littipara said.
The incident created panic among school authorities as well as students. As the news spread, parents started queuing up to take their wards home.
JVM (P) leader Anil Murmu demanded stern action against culprits.
“The incident is a blot on society. Police should arrest culprits without delay otherwise we will be forced to launch massive agitation” Murmu, a native of Littipara Assembly constituency said.
The missionary school, besides offering elementary education to Paharia children up to Class III, also trains them in simple vocations such as stitching and appliqué work.
Meanwhile, no headway has been made in the Jasidih rape-cum-murder case even though the CBI took over late last month.