Pune IAS officer held and tolls 80 minor girls raped in Pune district

Pune,Anuradha Mascarenhas (IE): A senior IAS officer, M H Sawant, 58, director general of the Maharashtra Council of Agricultural Education and Research (MCAER), was arrested by the Pune police on Thursday on charges of molestation and rape of four schoolgirls aged between eight to 10 years.

“Sawant has been arrested and booked under relevant sections of the IPC for rape and molestation. As of now, we know of only four victims. We are recording the statement of each girl. He has also been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act,” confirmed DCP Sudhakar Pathare.

“As per primary information, the suspect has been sexually assaulting the girls for the past few days. He called them over to his building basement on the pretext of offering them food. The incident came to light after the girls told their school teacher, who informed the principal,” said a senior police officer.

“The school principal informed my wife and we immediately informed the police,” said PMC corporator from the area, Shrikant Jagtap.
Sawant, who was promoted to the IAS cadre in 1998, has been posted in various departments including sports, social welfare and agriculture.

As many as 80 minor girls have been raped in Pune district since June last year. Out of these, 18 were below the age of eight years, new data from the Pune district women and child welfare board revealed.
The findings were based on the number of proposals that were submitted to avail monetary compensation under the Manodhairya scheme. Launched in October 2013, the scheme envisaged providing between Rs 2 and 3 lakh for victims of rape, child abuse and acid attacks.
In Pune, from June last year till February 2015, the women and child welfare board has received 172 proposals, out of which 127 were approved for financial assistance. “What was shocking, however, was that out of 127 rapes which were all horrific, as many as 80 included girls who were below 18 years,” Meenakshi Birajdar, Pune district women and child development officer told The Indian Express.
Admitting that initially there was a slow start to the scheme as it took time to put procedures in place and set up committees to scrutinise the proposals for financial assistance, Birajdar said Rs 87 lakh had been allotted last fiscal to the Pune district, and 35 victims were compensated. Till March this year, a sum of Rs 1.13 crore has been approved and the amount will be disbursed among 44 victims. “We still require another Rs 1.34 crore,” Birajdar added.
Once an FIR is lodged, the case is reported to the board and we examine the details. At times it is difficult to track down rape victims. They give incorrect addresses or at times the victim is dead and then court procedures have to be followed to avail of a succession certificate,” Birajdar explained.
Under the scheme, victims are also offered vocational training to equip them to be financially independent. Counselling is a major component of the scheme and according to Child Welfare Committee chairperson Anita Vipat and counsellor member Poornima Gadia, utmost care had to be taken so that the victims were not exposed to public. Even police personnel are asked to visit the victim in plain clothes. “We tell the victims that just like another accident-be it a fracture or sickness that requires treatment-this incident too needs to be addressed. They are so gullible that a majority of rapes take place after the accused allure children with sweets,” officers at CWC said.
Maharashtra’s dubious distinction
Last year, Maharashtra recorded the highest number of cases of rape and assault on women among all Indian states. Union Minister of Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi told the Lok Sabha that the number of cases registered for rape and assault on women with the intent to outrage modesty had shown an increasing trend. The highest number of such cases were in Maharashtra (13,827), followed by Madhya Pradesh (13,323) and Andhra Pradesh (13,267) in 2014.