Deoria (Uttar Pradesh): Eighteen girls are still missing from Uttar Pradesh’s Deoria shelter home for women while 24 others have been rescued by authorities. The license for the home was cancelled in June last year, but the home remained open following a court stay order.
The girls were rescued after a 10-year-old girl escaped the shelter home on Sunday night and revealed that after four o’clock in the evening, several people in black and white cars would come and take girls between ages of 15 to 18 from ‘Madam’ and they would return late at night, crying.
The minor also alleged they were being forced to engage in sexual activities and work as servants by the couple.
The girl suggested that other dubious activities were taking place in the shelter home.
“The girl who escaped had been staying at the home for the last three years. She said they treated her like a servant. She also told us many girls were taken away in cars at night. They returned in the morning and cried through the day. Adoptions were also happening in an illegal manner here. We are looking into it and searching for the missing girls,” Superintendent of Police Rohan P Kanay said. Investigations are underway, he added.
After hearing the ordeal, the police raided the shelter and rescued the girls.
Deoria Police have arrested Girija Tripathi, the manager of the Vidhvansani Mahila and Balika Sanrakshan Griha and her husband Mohan after a raid by the local police late on Sunday.
“During the raid, 18 of the total 42 women enrolled were found missing. We have arrested the women operator and her husband as they could not give any satisfactory answer,” SP Rohan P Kanay said during a press conference late on Sunday.
The girls have been sent for medical examination and their statement will be recorded before a magistrate, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said. “The Women and Child Development Department is also coordinating. The inquiry will be done under proper legal procedure,” he said.
Uttar Pradesh Women and Child Welfare Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi said a directive was issued to shift the inmates and shut the shelter home after the CBI inspection last year established that it was running illegally. She added that the order was not followed.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has sent a two-member high level committee to Deoria for the investigation. The delegation will be staying in Deoria today and will submit a report, following which action will be taken, Rita Bahuguna Joshi said.
SP Rohan P Kanay said that trouble regarding the shelter home started way back when an order to close the institution was made and the organisation’s director misbehaved with the police team. After that incident, a girl came running from that same institution and this explains the state of things back at the shelter home, Kanay added.
Till its license was cancelled in 2017, the privately run shelter in Deoria used to receive funds from the government. However, the couple continued to run the home even after their license was cancelled. When a team of police went to inspect the home last week, the duo misbehaved and turned them away. A First Information Report or an FIR was filed against them.
The horrific incident comes to light amid massive outrage over the sexual abuse of girls at a state-funded shelter in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur. Over 30 girls, one as young as seven years, put up at the shelter were sedated, tortured and raped allegedly by the man made in charge by the government.
Allegations have also been made against the husband of a minister in Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s government.
The opposition parties have lashed out at the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh and demanded a CBI probe into the case and strict action against the accused.
Deoria’s district magistrate Sujeet Kumar has been removed from his post.