Shimla. The Durbar Hall of the historic Raj Bhawan of Himachal Pradesh is to witness a unique programme on April 17 in which eight people, including four persons, who played a vital role in exposing the infamous deaf girls’ rape case in Shimla, would receive a special honour for social bravery from Governor Prabha Rau. Four blind students from below-poverty-line (BPL) families would be honoured for their outstanding achievements in academics and sports.
Prof. Sunil Gupta, Vice-Chancellor of Himachal Pradesh University, will preside over the function. The programme is being organized by the Himachal Pradesh Chapter of Society for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies (SDRS) as a part of its campaign to strengthen disability rights movement in the state.
Talking to HimVani, the chairman of SDRS, Ajai Srivastava, said that the deaf girls’ rape and sexual exploitation by their teachers in a residential school was exposed on March 15 this year. A partially deaf and speech impaired girl Shikha Sood who was a day scholar for speech therapy in the institute run by Prerna Welfare Society at Totu in Shimla, smelled some thing foul and brought the things in the notice of one Rajesh Joshi, a lady inspector of CID. Joshi took her to ID Bhandari, Additional Director General of Police (CID). After detailed discussion with Shikha, Bhandari was convinced that sexual exploitation of six deaf girls between the age of 13 and 21 years had been going on for a couple of months in the residential complex of the institute. He directed RM Sharma, superintendent of police, Shimla, to take appropriate and immediate action. Sharma’s quick action resulted in the arrest of four teachers in connection with the rape and sexual exploitation of the deaf girls.
It is pertinent to mention that this case not only exposed the dirty deeds of some teachers of the institute but also the entire functioning of the bureaucracy in the department of social justice and empowerment of the state. While from the day one, the bureaucrats in the department were trying to show that this incident was a crime committed by some individuals, Ajai Srivastava took bold stand and said that the department was totally at fault in giving recognition to that institute as under the Persons with Disabilities Act- 1995. According to him, not only the Act was violated, but recognition was also granted to that institute in contravention of the provisions of Rehabilitation Council of India Act- 1992. He had alleged that the grant of Rs 30,000 per month was sanctioned to the institute in violation of the norms of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. He demanded a high level inquiry about the functioning of institutes for persons with disabilities in Himachal Pradesh.
After Ajai Srivastava’s press conference in this connection on March 17, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal took serious cognizance of the matter and ordered the chief secretary to inquire the entire matter and ‘fix responsibility of each and every individual in this case. The chief minister also directed that an immediate inspection of all the institutes for persons with disabilities in the state be conducted and necessary action be taken. The inquiry was conducted and the registration of more than six such institutes was cancelled by the government.
Srivastava said: “The four persons who played a key role in exposing the things deserve social recognition for their social bravery and sincere service to the society. This is the reason that the Society for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies decided to hold a civic reception for these real heroes of the society.”
Four blind students – Anil Kumar, Sanjay Kumar, Joginder Pal and Dharmendra Kumar – will also be honoured for securing sixty-eight to seventy percent marks in class X board exams, despite facing different odds in the Institute for Blind at Dhalli, Shimla. All these boys are also excellent athletes and have won gold medals in the blind persons’ sports meet at national level. Ajai Srivastava said these students will be given some cash reward along with a citation.