CHENNAI – Police in southern India have arrested a school principal for raping scores of disabled girls over a period of at least four years at a private school.

Two former pupils at the private girls’ boarding school, housing 200 speech-and hearing-impaired girls, in Tamil Nadu state, had alerted the authorities to the alleged abuse, India Now reported. They both work at the school now.

Police had sought help to communicate with the students through sign language.

Three women and a man were also arrested on suspicion of covering up the abuse, while a third suspect who worked at the school has absconded.

One, a 19-year-old, alleged she was repeatedly raped by the school head when she was just 15 and that school staff had taken her to hospital for an abortion.

Police received a similar complaint from a second female employee who alleged she was also raped by the school head, and that he was continuing to abuse children.

Both the complaints are under investigation.

Sexual crimes are on the rise in India which has a poor history of tackling abuse in homes and other residential care facilities.

Last year police arrested the head of a children’s home in New Delhi after six girls accused him of raping and filming them naked on his mobile phone.