In a strange case of ‘conspiracy’, a South Goa teacher, Manoj Phadte, has been arrested on account of molestation of five (later six) minor girls. After the FIR was lodged against him based on the complaints given by the students, it has come to light that the whole case may have in fact been fabricated by the school’s headmaster and other senior staff members. Needless to say, investigations are ongoing, while Phadte has been admitted to a hospital after complaining of chest pains. The case itself goes back to September, though the FIR was lodged just a few days ago. This follows a case recently where a swimming coach was arrested for molestation as well.
The original complaint
On Wednesday, October 16, 58-year-old Manoj Phadte was arrested for allegedly molesting five girls in a school in Kundaim. An offence was registered against him under Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 8 of the Goa Children’s Act. Since then, at least one more student has supposedly come forward with a complaint of molestation and considering the grievous nature of acts against the girls, Section 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act has now been added to the First Information Report (FIR) filed against the accused teacher.
The statements of the girls were recorded in the presence of an NGO, after which Section 10 of the POCSO Act has been added to the FIR. In the meantime, Manoj Phadte has been admitted to the Sub District Hospital in Ponda after complaining of chest pain on Thursday morning. Police said he has been kept under medical observation. Phadte taught the students mathematics, and the complaints state that he would allegedly ‘touch them in a wrong manner during class.’
In the teacher’s defence, the parents come forward
In a strange twist to the tale, however, villagers from Kundaim have come forward defending the teacher, saying that the headmaster was fabricating the story, and is hatching a conspiracy against Phadte. On investigation into the matter, it turns out that the Vishaka committee consisting of five teachers from the school conducted an internal inquiry over a month starting September, and based on their findings, lodged the complaint.
Apparently, the molestation incident came to light during a counselling session, after which the Vishaka committee initiated their inquiry into the matter. They then took the matter to the headmaster, following which the complaint was raised with the police. While we are not entirely sure if the girls have retracted their statements, the parents and the girls themselves are now saying that the teacher is innocent and that they were made to write the complaints under duress from the school counsellor, another teacher, and the headmaster. During a press conference in the village, the locals condemned the allegations saying that the entire incident has been ‘fabricated’. They further went on to say that the school’s senior staff have conspired against Phadte in collaboration with the school counsellor. It should be noted that the girls along with their parents were present at the press conference.
What are your thoughts on this matter? Let us know in the comments below, and check back for updates as this is an ongoing story.