‘Rape’ of an Assam teacher who had been protesting against the missing midday meals confirms the worst fears of her women colleagues. Now many want jobs out of remote areas
October 1 had begun as any other day for the 20-year-old. Since she cleared the Teacher Eligibility Test in 2012 and started work at a lower primary school in Darrang district, she would get up early, catch a public transport on NH-52, and walk the remaining 2 km through a tea estate. Once inside her class though, the hassles of the travel would be soon pushed back as the school’s 72 children would swarm around her, seeking the chocolates and toffees she always had for them.
Those days are over. That afternoon, as she was returning from school the same way alone — the other teacher was on leave — four men accosted her, dragged her into the tea bushes and at least two allegedly raped her. There was no one around as the tea estate workers had gone for lunch.
The authorities are investigating whether the assault on her –—while the medical report is awaited, rape has been unofficially confirmed — was prompted by her taking on the School Management Committee over her students being deprived of midday meals. Of the five arrested by police, one is Mustafizur Rahman, member-secretary of the committee, who is also accused of misappropriating funds meant for school infrastructure.
The other four are Muslimuddin, Joynal Abedin, Samer Ali and Abdul Ali. Police are trying to determine whether they were hired by Rahman.
The authorities have transferred the rape victim to a school closer to her home in Mangaldoi town now. However, in the fortnight since the assault, at least 50 women teachers of Darrang district alone have also applied to the Inspector of Schools in Mangaldoi for a transfer to “safer places”.
“The teachers are now scared of travelling to remote places where their schools are located,” says Rajlakshmi Sarma, an officer in the Inspector’s office.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has constituted a three-member committee to look into the safety of women teachers posted in remotely located schools.The committee will