The Sharjah Indian School is owned and managed by Indian Association Sharjah Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Sharjah: A school bus assistant has been arrested for allegedly molesting a four-and-a-half-year-old Indian girl just before the winter break.

Radhakrishnan Nair, principal of Sharjah Indian School (SIS), has confirmed that Sharjah Police arrested the Indian bus assistant on December 26, five days after the alleged sexual assault against the KG1 student on a school bus.

"The parents didn't come to us," said Nair. "They went to the police directly and the matter is under investigation. The police asked for him and took him away. They didn't tell us anything. If he's found guilty he should be punished."

Severe Bleeding

The parents lodged a complaint with the police when they saw the child bleeding after coming home from school. She was subsequently rushed to Sharjah's Al Qasimi Hospital. Reports quoted an Al Qasimi Hospital source as saying the girl was first brought to them a few days before Christmas with "severe bleeding". Two days later, she was brought in again with a urinary tract infection.

School Public Relations Officer (PRO) Munir said they came to know about the incident only when the police contacted them and sought details of the suspect. "We are shocked," said Munir, "and waiting for the completion of the police enquiry."

Located opposite the Gold Centre on Al Wahda Road, SIS was set up in 1979 and is owned and managed by the Indian Association Sharjah.

An association official said: "We have full faith in the Sharjah Police and will co-operate fully with any investigation."

No comment from Sharjah Police was readily available.

News of the incident has sent shock waves among parents.

"I have a five-year-old daughter and I will be very worried about her safety when the school reopens," said an Indian mother.

There were some dissenting voices too. "The claim that this girl was assaulted on the bus must be viewed in the light of the fact that there are 13 stops between the time the girl is picked up at 10.10am and before the bus reaches the school at 10.40am during its daily run. The bus has 24 stops in all," said another parent.

In January, reports of a girl being sexually abused by three school bus staff sparked outrage in Dubai. The suspects - all Indians - reportedly confessed to the crime but after a protracted legal battle, the Appeals Court let them off as there was not enough evidence to establish their guilt.

With inputs from Sharmila Dhal