Maharashtra govt had not taken any action to redress the grievance regarding an earlier issued notice on the deaths of 740 tribal students
GN Bureau | January 24, 2017
Taking suo motu cognisance of a news report of the death of over 500 tribal girls in the Maharashtra state-run ashram schools, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to the chief secretary of the state to come up with a detailed report within six weeks.
According to a media report, there have also been instances of sexual abuse of the girl students by the teachers and staff of these schools. A probe has revealed that the school authorities keep menstruation records of the girls and conduct urine tests on them to rule out pregnancy, whenever the girls miss their periods or come back from the vacations.
The commission has noted that the state government has not taken any action to redress the grievance regarding a notice issued on the October 10, 2016 on similar reports of about 740 deaths of tribal students in ashramshalas in last 10 years. The government has also not submitted a report to the notice, despite a reminder on November 26, 2016.
Reportedly, a tribal girl from a school in Khamgaon taluka of Buldhana district in Maharashtra, returned home for the Diwali vacations and complained of stomach pain. She was found to be a victim of sexual abuse. Another 12-year-old girl also reportedly complained of sexual abuse by a sweeper of the same school. The school hostel accommodates 70 girls and does not have a female superintendent.
Read: "There is no check on quality of education and food provided at ashram schools"
There are nearly 1,100 state-run and aided tribal residential schools in Maharashtra, catering to about 1.6 lakh female and 2.3 lakh male students. Over 1,500 students including 700 girls have reportedly lost their lives in these schools in the past 15 years. Sexual abuse is also suspected to be a reason behind these deaths.
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This piece is based on a previous article by the authors published in Geoforum [Elsevier] in May 2019: available online: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/ S0016718519300764?via%3Dihub
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