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Two Gym Instructors Arrested in Bangalore Child Rape Case

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In a new twist, two gymnastics instructors have been arrested for the alleged gangrape of a six-year old girl at a public school here with the police ruling out the "direct" role of the skating instructor who was booked as the main accused in the incident.

It has now emerged that the incident, which triggered national outrage and severe protests over alleged lack of swift action, was much more horrific as it was a gangrape at the high-profile Vibgyor High School, according to the probe that has come under close public scrutiny.

"A complaint of rape has turned out to be a case of gangrape after the arrest of two more persons in the Vibgyor High School case," City Police Commissioner M N Reddi told reporters here.

Reddi said the two accused - Lal Giri and Wasim Pasha - gymnastics instructors, were arrested last night and booked under Section 376D of Indian Penal Code (intercourse by any member of the management or staff of a hospital with a woman in that hospital).

Sections 4 and 6 under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) which relate to punishment for penetrative sexual assault and "aggravated" penetrative sexual assault, respectively, have been also invoked against them.

Giri was born and brought up in Nepal but he and Pasha were "Kannadigas" and residents of Karnataka, Reddi said.

Lending a new twist to the case, Reddi said investigation has ruled out the direct involvement of Mustafa who was held by police as a suspect based on "circumstantial evidence available at that point of time."

"We have ruled out his (Mustafa's) direct involvement because the way the incident has happened - the evidence that we have collected clearly shows there were two people (Giri and Pasha," Reddi said as the new dimension raised questions about the probe. 

Mustafa was the first to be arrested in the case amid protests and rising public anger over the incident with police coming under fire for delay in action, followed by school Founder-Chairman Rustom Kerawalla. The incident had occurred on July 2 and the police complaint was lodged on July 14.

Reddi, however, said, police would continue interrogation of Mustafa to find out his "indirect" involvement.

"The initial suspicion was on him (Mustafa) in terms of the conduct, the behaviour, some amount of circumstantial evidence and the kind of material that was found on his personal possessions also indicated to such a tendency as we moved on in the investigation," Reddi said.

Police had seized from Mustafa a laptop which they said contained content relating to child pornography.

Reddi said one more case has been booked under POCSO Act against Mustafa in the Whitefield Police Station for his alleged sexual misbehaviour when he was employed with another school, Deens Academy, before joining Vibgyor High School.

Deens Academy Principal Shanthi Menon had said that after repeated warnings by way of counseling and memos, when it was found Mustafa continued to touch girls while he guided them through their sporting activity, his services were terminated.

Asked if any action would be taken against the Vibgyor High School Principal, Reddi said "whatever information we have received so far, we have acted on such people. If we get any further information on culpability of anybody else, we will also act on it."

Reddi said the Vibgyor School sexual assault case has been solved in terms of identifying the culprits who have actually committed the offence.

The incident had raised questions about safety of school - going children with the public outcry prompting police to come out with a raft of tough guidelines for security of students with a warning that failure to comply with them would invite prosecution.

Vibgyor High School reopened yesterday, 10 days after it was shut following the incident.

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PLACES: Bangalore
SECTION: National
OUTLOOK 29 July, 2014
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