The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of reports that a 14-year-old girl student of Class VIII delivered a baby girl in a state-run residential tribal school in Kandhamal district on 12 January and issued notice to the chief secretary seeking a report within four weeks. The outrage over the horrifying incident peaked on Monday as the newborn died at a government hospital in Berhampur. The minor mother continues to battle for life.
Opposition Congress and BJP stepped up the heat on the Naveen Patnaik government saying it was yet another instance of lack of governance and height of insensitivity.
OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik demanded resignation of Tribal Welfare Minister Ramesh Majhi on moral grounds, while a team of the Mahila Congress visited the hospital and also went to Kandhamal district. Mahila Congress president Sumitra Jena said parents of the victim girl were distressed as they had not even been able to see their daughter yet.
Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said it was high time the “insensitive”, “anti-Dalit”, “anti-tribal” BJD government was thrown out.
Grabbing at the opportunity to slam the BJD government, former MP Baijayant Panda said such instances were on the rise in Odisha. In 2015, over 20 cases of teen pregnancies in tribal schools were reported, he alleged.
“Women are not safe in Odisha,” charged expelled BJD leader Damodar Rout, adding: “Heads at the very top including the tribal welfare minister should roll, not mere staff of the residential school, thundered the opposition leaders while drawing attention to circulars that medical check ups should be held regularly at such schools, the district collector needs to monitor the functioning of such institutions etc.”
It may be recalled that the minor girl gave birth to a baby girl at a state-run residential school in Kandhamal district on Saturday night. Allegedly driven out of the hostel after that, the girl was hiding in a nearby forest before being rescued.
The district administration has suspended the headmistress concerned and sacked six staff members of the institution. A college student has been arrested on charges of impregnating the girl.
The NHRC said on Monday the contents of the news reports, if true, amounted to gross violation of human rights of the minor girl who, apparently, became the victim of apathy and gross negligence by the school administration.
The state is responsible for the safety and security of the girl students residing in the residential schools.
A 3rd year college student has been arrested and two matrons, two cook-cum-attendants, a woman supervisor and an auxiliary nurse and midwife of the institute disengaged from service for dereliction of duty in connection with this incident.
Tribal Development Minister Ramesh Majhi said a probe had been ordered. “The government is committed to ensure safety and well being of the students and CCTV camera is being installed in all the 1000 residential schools,” he added.