Six Disabled Inmates of MP Shelter Home Accuse Owner of Raping Them for Years
In a written complaint, the victims also alleged that three girls had lost their lives to the sexual assault by the elderly owner.
Image for representation only. News18 creatives/Mir Suhail
Bhopal: Six hearing- and speech-impaired inmates of a shelter home in the state have accused their elderly owner of sexually exploiting them since 2010.
In a written complaint to the department of social justice and empowerment on Friday, the two girls and four boys accused the owner of Sai Viklang Anath Ashram, MP Awasthi, of raping them and their hostel mates.
The victims also alleged that three girl inmates had died due to the physical torture, Shraddha Shukla, a sign language expert accompanying them, said.
“The victims have claimed that despite their complaint to authorities, no action was taken against the owner,” she said, adding that a woman was also involved. The complainants also accused Commissioner Social Justice KG Tiwari of not being sensitive to their complaint.
However, defending himself earlier in the day, Awasthi said: “I am an ailing 70-year-old man, why would I assault anyone sexually?” He said he had no idea of who was “conniving” against him, adding that he had been running the centres since 1991.
According to the complaint, Rani (name changed), who was separated from her family in 2004, found shelter in the organisation. She alleged that since 2010, she was subjected to sexual assault and torture, which continued till 2012. Rani said Awasthi also used to bring her to the Bhopal-based centre and rape her.
Help from one of the donors associated with the organisation freed her from Awasthi’s clutches post 2012 and she was enrolled in another shelter home. However, after completing Class 12, Rani had to return to her previous centre in 2016, after which the torture began again. Finally, she sought help from a person and approached the police and collector to lodge her complaint.
A subsequent probe by the collector found the complaints to be true and shut down the branch but no FIR was lodged against the culprit. The victims alleged that the exploitation continued in the Bairagarh branch of the organisation.
Congress chief spokesperson Shobha Oza, who accompanied the group to TT Nagar police station, told News18 that it was highly objectionable that despite the centre owner being found guilty of sexual assaults in 2017, the department continued to fund such a dubious organisation.
Alleging that three children had lost their lives, Oza accused the state government of sheltering the accused.
City SP Bhupinder Singh told News18 that the statements of the victims were being recorded and the process would be completed post-midnight. “We will send the case diaries to the police station concerned on Saturday,” said the officer.
The official denied having information about the arrest of the accused but sources claimed that Awasthi was detained by Bairagarh police on Friday afternoon after the media highlighted the issue.
The victims also accused the sign language expert summoned by the police of being hand-in-glove with the department and were convinced only after their own interpreter joined the proceedings.
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