It began with a Facebook post by KV Sasikumar on March 31 – the day of his retirement as a teacher – that opened a can of worms. After Sasikumar shared the post reminiscing his 38-year-old career at the the Government-aided Girls High School in Malappuram, an alum of the school shared a post hinting at alleged abuse by Sasikumar.
After more students came out with similar allegations, the alumni association of the school informed the police. The Womens' Police Station in Malappuram has now booked Sasikumar under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act.
TNM confirmed with the Vanitha (women's) Police Station that Sasikumar has been booked in a complaint filed by a former student on 7 May.
Sasikumar, who is a CPI(M) councillor of the Malappuram municipality, and had reportedly taught at the school for about three decades, has been absconding after the complaint was filed.
The police have also sought legal opinion on the complaints filed by the schools’ alumni association on behalf of some of the former students on 2 May.
The three-time councillor of his municipality, Sasiskumar had allegedly been sexually abusing students for years. After the complaints surfaced, he resigned as councillor, reportedly on the CPI(M)’s direction, and has also been suspended from the party membership.
The series of alleged crimes by Sasikumar has sparked outrage on social media. The Mahila Congress organised a protest march to the police station on 12 May.
Beena Pillai and Mini Sakeer, two former students of the school, held a press meet in Malappuram on Wednesday, 11 May, where they alleged that there are numerous instances of abuse by Sasikumar, including sexual assault, and two students were even on the verge of suicide as a result of the alleged abuse.
They added that the teachers to whom some of the students disclosed the alleged abuse were insensitive, and the school management took no action despite a complaint filed with its Ethics Committee in 2019.
Beena alleged that the complaint clearly indicated that Sasikumar had sexually abused students. “The students had even complained to the teachers. The teachers, however, were not sensitive enough to understand the nature of the complaint. Instead, they told the students who were only 9 to 12 years old to not be coquettish to him," Beena added.
She argued that it was high time to educate teachers against victim blaming. “Children don't get the protection despite laws like POCSO Act being in place. There is a counsellor at the school who is a nun, who is not approachable. I am not aware if the students filed a complaint with Childline," Beena said.
While speaking to TNM and in the press meet, Beena noted that there were also cases where there was aggravated sexual assault.
"Two girls were on the verge of suicide. One girl had to be hospitalised for treatment for she was assaulted brutally. We have information on this from the doctor who treated the girl. A complaint was also filed at the Ethics Committee."
"Students realised that they had been sexually abused when they reached the tenth standard. If normal course of action was followed, if such instances were reported at a school, the teachers would be fired with a show-cause notice. But Sasikumar was probably only suspended or sent on leave once. There was an attempt to file a police complaint, but that was compromised," she said.
Now, multiple students have filed a complaint with the Vanitha (Womens') Police Station, after which Sasikumar has been booked under POCSO. "After the Facebook posts, many students started coming forward and called me to share what had happened. We have got information from at least 25 students. Instead of helping the students, the teachers resorted to silence. People like Sasikumar are hiding in many places. And many children won't even realise this was abuse," she said.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute.)