Days after a Delhi High Court-appointed committee raided Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya in north Delhi’s Rohini and found women and girls confined in “animal-like” conditions, another branch in Dwarka’s Mohan Garden was raided on Friday night and five minor girls were rescued. The ashrams are run by Baba Virender Dev Dikshit, who has been asked by the court to appear before the CBI in connection with the findings.
The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), which is part of the panel, said it traced the ashram after Dikshit’s lawyer failed to provide addresses of its eight branches. After a PIL about the Rohini ashram was filed in the court by an NGO, Foundation for Social Empowerment, the panel was set up — comprising lawyers, the Child Welfare Committee and DCW chief Swati Maliwal — to inspect the premises.
During the raid, sources said the team found 21 girls living in the same conditions as those in the Rohini ashram. “The Dwarka ashram was much smaller, but had the same prison-like surroundings. The girls were locked inside rooms. There were stacks of medicines. No registers were maintained to record where the girls came from and for how long they have been there. When questioned, the girls gave evasive replies,” Maliwal said.
On Saturday morning, the three-storey building which housed the ashram wore a deserted look. Residents in the area claimed the ashram had been operating for more than 20 years. They also told the panel that many of the girls were whisked away from the premises before the raid, sources said. “They said they often heard the girls crying at night, and saw cars going to and from the premises,” Maliwal said.
According to officials, CWC Sabrina Sabarwal and the DCW first interacted with the five girls on Friday morning, following which she issued orders to rescue them. “The rescue operation was conducted by the team, with the help of Delhi Police, on Friday night. The girls were taken to a shelter home,” an official said.
DCW officials said they also inspected another ashram in Palam, but found no girls confined there. “This ashram had eight women. But the register showed there were girls aged between 11 and 13. By the time we got there, everything was hidden,” Maliwal said.