Incident Reports

19 schoolgirls accuse teacher of molestation

2020-02-17

Bagmati, Lalitpur, Lalitpur

Nineteen girl students of Lalitpur-based Shree Narayan Basic School — some as young as nine years — have accused their social studies teacher, Nanda Prasad Niraula, believed to be in his 50s, of molesting them during school hours.

In a hand-written letter submitted to Principal Sabita Silwal on Friday morning, the 19 students, all below 13 years, accused the teacher of ‘caressing their back, touching their frontal parts, touching their private parts and acting obscenely’. “We cannot tolerate such behaviour. Nanda sir behaved in such a way. You are requested to investigate,” reads the letter addressed to the principal.

The letter was written on Thursday and 19 girls signed it.

Silwal alleged that similar complaints were filed against Niraula in the two schools where he used to teach earlier. “He was transferred from Patan Secondary School in Patan a few years ago to Kalidevi Basic School in Lakuri Bhanjyang after receiving similar complaints. He was transferred to our school around a year ago,” Silwal said, adding Niraula had also faced similar accusation in Kalidevi school.

“Lady teachers in our school were aware of his behaviour and kept him at a distance,” Silwal told THT.

After receiving the letter, the principal called a board meeting of the school management committee where the issue was discussed. Teachers were divided on whether to take legal action against Niraula or not. Some argued that ‘it would give a bad name to the school’.

After the meeting someone from the school called police from the nearby Lubhu police beat. Police then arrested Niraula. He was later transferred to Satdobato-based Metropolitan Police Circle only to be released on personal recognisance this evening.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Mitra Bandhu Sharma at MPC Satdobato said, “Niraula was detained until this evening. We hoped to receive a formal complaint against him, but not even the school administration filed an FIR. So were forced to release him.”

According to Spokesperson for the Office of Attorney General Sanjiv Raj Regmi, law requires that in the case of children, somebody representing their parents, guardians or school must file the first information report against the perpetrator.

Chairman of the school management committee Rameshwor Karki said although the accusation might be true, police also needed to investigate if the allegations were made under the influence of someone who was against Niraula. “Most of the accusers are from Grade III and IV. Very few senior girls have signed the complaint letter,” added Karki.

Eight students of Grade III, nine girls of Grade IV and two girls of Grade V have signed the letter. The school has classes up to Grade VIII.

Karki claimed that Niraula was slated to be promoted as principal after a few months.

Principal Silwal told THT over phone that she was under pressure to keep the case under wraps, but she had made up her mind to file an FIR tomorrow with the support of local leader


Update

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School teacher accused of molesting students arrested


Police have arrested Nanda Prasad Niraula, the 55-year-old social studies teacher at Shree Narayan Basic School in Mahalaxmi Municipality of Lalitpur, on the charge of sexually molesting 26 girls of grades III, IV and V on the school premises.

The arrest was made after school Principal Sabita Silwal filed a first information report about the sexual assault today.

Although Silwal was aware about the issue six days ago, she had not formally lodged a police complaint as she was asked by the school management committee to keep mum. “I finally decided not to cave in to the pressure as I am also a guardian of young girls who were molested,” said Silwal, adding, “The perpetrator must be punished as per the law.”

If Niraula is found guilty he could be imprisoned for up to three years and fined up to Rs 30,000. He could even get a longer sentence for deliberately abusing his authority as a teacher, according to police.

This case was first exposed by THT after it got hold of a letter jointly written by the girls to their principal. In the letter, the girls aged nine to 13 had charged Niraula of caressing their bodies, including chest and legs, in an inappropriate manner. Some of the girls later told THT that Niraula would shut doors and windows of classrooms before committing the heinous crime.

“The children’s verbal complaints and the letter they have written would be used as evidences to initiate litigation,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Mitra Bandhu Sharma, who heads Metropolitan Police Circle, Satdobato, adding, “Our case will be stronger if we can convince the parents of the children to furnish their statement.”

This is not the first time Niraula has been charged with molesting girls on school premises. He was transferred from two schools in Patan and Lakuri Bhanjyang after facing similar accusations, according to Silwal. Yet the crimes he committed in the past were never reported to the police.

Despite being aware of his sketchy past, the school management committee had tried to protect him by delaying the process of
lodging police complaint. Yesterday, the Guardian Association of Nepal even warned it would take the case to the police itself if the school management continued showing its indifference. But in an unexpected turn of events, the school management committee today suspended Niraula from the school and formed a three-member investigation team to support the police in their investigation.

Police, until today, had said they could not formally investigate the case unless an FIR was filed as the victims were minors. Without FIR, police cannot keep a person in their custody for more than 24 hours. So, police were asking Niraula to present himself at the station every day.

Details and Impacts
Violent / Non-violent Violent
Onesided / Twosided Onesided
Collective / Interpersonal Interpersonal
Primary Form Sexual Assault
Weapons None
Primary Cause Rape/sexual assault
Actor 1 - Number of people 1
Actor 1 - Affiliations Education sector/teachers (private and public)
Actor 1 - Youth noyouth
Actor 2 - Number of people 19
Actor 2 - Affiliation (Target) Students
Actor 2 - Youth youth
Total Abducted 00
National/Online Media

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