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Baby Delivered in School by Odisha Girl Dies, Headmistress Suspended

The Odisha government has suspended the school's headmistress and three assistant superintendents in connection with the incident. Six other employees of the school are also being questioned.


Updated:January 14, 2019, 5:47 PM IST
Baby Delivered in School by Odisha Girl Dies, Headmistress Suspended
Picture for representation. (Getty Images)

Phulbani/Bhubaneswar: A baby girl delivered by a 14-year-old at a tribal residential school's hostel in Odisha's Khandamal district died at a hospital where she was admitted along with her mother, officials said Monday.

The girl, a Class 8 student of the Sevashram High School in Daringibadi in the district, delivered the baby on Saturday night.

On Sunday, police arrested a third-year college student — a resident of Takalmaha village for allegedly raping the minor. Superintendent of Police, Khandamal, Pratik Singh said Shraban Pradhan allegedly raped the girl when she had gone to her village in Daringbadi for vacation a few months back. "As per the direction of the government we have taken stringent steps against the errant (employees). If necessary further action will be taken," Collector Brundha D said.

On Monday, the Odisha government suspended the school's headmistress Radharani Dalei and three assistant superintendents of the institution in connection with the incident. Police are also questioning six employees of the school.

The minor girl and the newborn were earlier admitted to the Baliguda sub-divisional hospital in Kandhamal after being rescued, Kandhamal District Welfare Officer Charulata Mallick said. Later on Sunday night, they were shifted to the MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur where the newborn died.

The girl is undergoing treatment at the gynecology ward and her condition is normal, MKCG Hospital Superintendent Charana Panda said.

Kandhamal District Collector Brundha D said headmistress Dalei has been placed under suspension.

She was suspended by the state government on the recommendation of the district collector, who, on Sunday, disengaged two matrons, two cook-cum-attendants, a lady supervisor and an auxiliary nurse-midwife of the institute from service for dereliction of duty.

The three assistant superintendents were also suspended by the collector, Mallick said. Baliguda sub-collector is conducting an inquiry into the incident and he is to submit a report in 10 days.

Opposition Congress and BJP have mounted a scathing attack on the state government over the incident. State SC and ST Development Minister Ramesh Majhi said the district collector had been asked to submit a detailed report on the circumstances under which the girl got pregnant and delivered the baby.

The government has taken stern action against errant employees of the high school run by ST and SC development department by dismissing and suspending several of them, he said.

Majhi said it has been decided to install CCTV cameras in school hostels in the state as a measure to enhance safety and security of students, particularly girls.

On Monday, a delegation of the state women Congress wing met the minor girl at the Behrampur hospital. While demanding resignation of the ST and SC development minister, state Congress women wing president Sumitra Jena said the tribal girl is in a state of trauma and unable to speak coherently.

Terming the incident as shameful, she said "it proved that the BJD government had failed miserably to provide security to girls and women, mainly tribals."

Slamming the state government over the episode, BJP leader and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said atrocities and sexual exploitation of women and minor girls are rising in Odisha due to lack of political will and inaction on the part of the police.

Soon after news about the incident spread Sunday, a large number of locals had staged a demonstration and put up a blockade on the National Highway 59 demanding immediate arrest of the culprit and stern action against school officials.

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