The 306 tribal students in Palghar who had gone on a hunger strike to protest against sexual harassment by some locals ended the stir on Tuesday after authorities promised to book the culprits and look into other grievances.
The Palghar police said that they had taken the students’ complaint and were trying to identify the harassers. One of the students, in fact, has provided the registration number of a motorcycle used by a suspect and cops have asked Vasai transport officials to help identify him.
The students hail from tribal areas of Nandurbar, Vikramgadh, Wada, Mokhada, Jawhar, Talasari and Dahanu, among others. They study in different colleges in Palghar, but stay in the same hostel in Bidco area.
The hostel batch, comprising 126 girls and 180 boys, went on a hunger strike on December 19 to pressure officials to crack down on some Palghar men who allegedly passed obscene remarks and even exposed themselves to girls. The harassment took place when the students were on the way to their colleges.
The students also demanded better facilities and food at the hostel.
Seventeen protesters had to be hospitalised over the weekend following dehydration. They recovered on Tuesday and were discharged, according to Dr Rajendra Kelkar, Palghar’s top medical official.
Earlier on Tuesday, Tribal Commissioner (Thane) Nasik Sanjeev Kumar, Additional Tribal Commissioner Sudhir Patil and other government officials met the students’ representatives and assured them that facilities and the quality of food served at the Bidco hostel would be improved.
The officials said that they would discuss the issue with Tribal Development Minister Vishnu Savra after the winter session of the state legislature ended on December 30.
Assistant Inspector Deepak Salunkhe of the Palghar police, meanwhile, said that the female students were harassed in Ambedkar Nagar, which is close to the hostel. “We have the registration number of a bike used by one of the men and we have shared it with the Vasai RTO. We should have the bike owner’s details within 48 hours,” he said, adding that the suspect would be detained once students identify him as one of the harassers.