An FIR has been lodged against four people, including the warden of a hostel when 89 girls were found missing in a surprise check on a Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) in Gonda, Uttar Pradesh. The missing girls, though, were traced on the night of the inspection itself.
Given the sensitive nature of the matter, the girls’ parents/guardians were contacted, and it was revealed that they were at their homes. By Tuesday evening, most girls had returned to school.
KGBVs are residential schools run for girls from socio-economically weaker sections of society. The thought behind this was that girls are more likely to be pulled out of school or never receive any schooling in deprived families. A residential all-paid-for model would ensure that girls stay in school.
On Monday night, the district magistrate, Neha Sharma made a surprise check of the school premises. At first, she was appalled at the school’s unsanitary conditions. However, it was when she decided to speak to the students that it was revealed that only 11 of the 100 enrolled students were on the school premises.
An FIR was registered later against Sarita Singh, the warden; Sushma Pal, the full-time teacher at the school; Vishnu Pratap Singh, the gatekeeper and Dilip Kumar Mishra, a Prantiya Raksha Dal jawan responsible for the security. This was for not following proper procedures— such as written permission from parents/guardians while letting the girls leave and thus causing dereliction of duty.
The warden could not provide any satisfactory answers for the missing girls. At first, it was unclear where the girls were. It was when the district magistrate and her staff spoke to the girls’ parents over the phone, she was informed that the girls had been at home, in most cases since August 19. Yet, the warden said that they had left on August 21- the day that the surprise check was made.
The girls leaving the school could have been to the festival of Teej.
The attendance for the students from classes 7 and 8, had not been noted in the school’s register since August 17. Yet the warden continued to upload fake attendance on a government portal, Prerna, that keeps a check on student attendance in government schools. This enabled the smooth release of funds in the names of the students— a financial irregularity which is also part of the FIR.