The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) sent a notice to the Odisha government Monday over reports that a 14-year-old girl delivered a baby in a state-run tribal residential school in Kandhamal district, officials said. Reportedly, after the delivery, the girl along with her newborn baby was "driven out" of the hostel and forced to "take shelter in a nearby jungle", the rights panel said in a statement.
"The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of a media report that a 14-year-old girl, a student of class 8, delivered a baby girl in a state-run tribal residential school in Odisha's Kandhamal district on January 12," it said.
The commission issued a notice to the state's chief secretary, seeking a detailed report within four weeks on action taken against the guilty and relief or rehabilitation as well as counselling provided to the minor girl. "The girl belongs to Scheduled Tribe, hence, the commission would also like to know the details of the sections under which FIR has been registered and status of statutory relief as per provisions of the SC/ST (PoA) Rules, 1995," the statement said.
The NHRC observed that it was apparent that the school headmistress and hostel warden have "failed to protect the poor girl" while she was in their custody, and due to their "negligence" she has suffered mental agony and social stigma. The state is responsible for the safety and security of the girl students staying in the residential schools, it said. As per the reports, the girl, along with her newborn baby, was traced with the help of local police on January 13 and admitted to a hospital, the NHRC said.
According to the report, carried Monday, a third-year student of the Daringbadi College has been arrested and two matrons, two cook-cum-attendants, a woman supervisor and an auxiliary nurse midwife of the institute have been disengaged from service for dereliction of duty in connection with the incident, the statement said. "It is also been reported that the government has recommended suspension of the school headmistress on the same charges," the statement said.
The minister concerned has reportedly stated that the district collector has been directed to probe the incident and submit a detailed report regarding circumstances under which the girl got pregnant and delivered a baby, the commission said. The locals had also staged a demonstration and blocked the National Highway-59, demanding immediate arrest of culprits and strict action against the school headmistress and the hostel warden, it said.
(With inputs from agencies.)