A first information report has been lodged against managers of two schools in Uttar Pradesh’s Purkazi town on Sunday for allegedly drugging and molesting 17 girl students studying in Class 10, The Indian Express reported.

One of the accused men has been arrested, Circle Officer Krishna Kumar Bishnoi told The Hindu.

The incident occurred on November 18 when students of a private school were moved to another institute on the pretext of a conducting a practical exam. One of the two accused persons works at the private school and the other is employed by the institute to which the students were shifted for the test.

The girls had allegedly been given food laced with sedatives and molested by the two accused persons on the night of November 18, according to News18. Subsequently, the school managers allegedly threatened the girls, saying they would not be able to pass their exams and that their families would be killed if they spoke out about the matter.

Last week, the alleged assault came to light when the parents of two students approached Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Pramod Utwal.

“A complaint was received from the father of a girl studying in a school under Purkazi police station area and a case was registered in this regard,” said Senior Superintendent of Police Abhishek Yadav. “Five teams have been constituted, including SOG [special operations group] and Crime Branch, and soon both the accused will be arrested.”

The accused have been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. Yadav said they have also been booked under sections 328 (causing hurt by means of poison, etc, with intent to commit an offence), 358 (assault or criminal force on grave provocation) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

“The victims belong to Economically Weaker Section families and were threatened,” Utwal said. “The girls are so terrified that they have not gone to school since the night [of the incident]. We will ensure the strictest possible punishment for the accused. If they do not surrender in time, their families will also face the music.”

The BJP MLA claimed that the police had not quickly responded to the crime. The parents of the girls too have alleged that the police did not register their complaint till Utwal intervened, reported The Times of India.

The Purkazi station house officer has been suspended for negligence of duty following a departmental inquiry against him.

According to the police, the manger of the school had told the parents that the girls would have to stay back in the other school overnight to take two back-to-back practical exams.

“We were told that it would be very time-consuming for the girls to travel to and fro the same day,” the father of one of the girls told The Times of India.

The parents said that they had sent their daughter in “good faith” even though there were no female supervisors.

“We were not too worried about them as they were in a large group of almost 20,” said another parent. “We thought they could take care of themselves together.”

They said it was later discovered that the manager had not asked the 14 boys in the same class to stay back.

One of the girls said that they were not aware if the education board had announced the dates of practical exams but they were made to write a paper, reported NDTV.