Updated: January 22, 2021 4:08:57 am
Four days after three women escaped and approached the police with allegations of being sexually abused at a Ujjawala shelter home, police on Thursday evening arrested Jitendra Mourya (50), President of Shivmangal Shikshan Samiti, the NGO that runs the home.
He was named in the FIR filed on January 17 to which charges pertaining to rape, assault and criminal conspiracy have now been added, police said. Police sent the women for a medical examination after their statements were recorded before a civil judge in the district court on Thursday.
An 18-year old woman who escaped from the Ujjawala home said, “I was taken there by the police because my parents didn’t want to keep me. Then, on my fourth day there, I was locked up in a room and raped. I told this to the judge.”
A gang-rape victim, the woman had been living at the home for a month before she managed to escape with two other women, one aged 20 and the other 19.
“The women staff beat me up and locked me in a room where Mourya forced himself on me. He would threaten to do it again every time I tried to run or alert someone. They wouldn’t allow me to speak to my family as well,” the 18-year-old woman said.
“We were not fed properly, but were given medicines mixed in liquids that would put us to sleep,” said a 19-year-old woman, who too had escaped from the shelter home.
After the statements were recorded by the civil judge, the police took the women to Sarkanda police station, where the FIR was lodged on January 17. “We are scared to go back to the police station. We were threatened to keep quiet last time,” said a 20-year-old woman, whose husband and .
“The women had not said anything about sexual abuse earlier. They can’t write, so I had recorded their statements. Now, according to their statements, we are adding sections to the FIR and he (Mourya) has been arrested,” City SP Nimisha Pandey said.
State Women and Child Development Secretary Shahla Nigar said, “In the primary report, the director and her team had spoken to the three women about the January 17 incident. A detailed report was provided to my office today. Prima facie, it seems there are grave allegations against the Samiti. We are looking at closing down the centre and will send our findings to the Union government that provided grants to the home.”
The seven other women who stayed at the home have been sent to their families or accommodated in other shelters for women, officials of the state Women and Child Development Department said.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, a former employee of the Samiti submitted a letter at the SP office. The woman, who worked at the home in 2012, told The Indian Express, “Jitendra Mourya touched the women inappropriately and commented on their private parts. He tried to harass me as well. He would not let the women go with their families, despite the main aim of the home being repatriation.”
In her letter to the SP, she stated, “Despite men not being allowed into the rooms of the women, he (Mourya) would walk into their rooms late at night and sometimes with his friends in an inebriated state. He wouldn’t even pay the staff and eventually we left. At that time, no one complained but after seeing the media reports, I decided to complain.”
Bilaspur SP Prashant Agrawal said he had not received the letter yet.
According to details on the Samiti’s website, more than 100 women had stayed at the home. The Samiti spent Rs 28 lakh on the home in 2017, Rs 27 lakh in 2018 and Rs 20 lakh in 2019, their documents state. According to audit reports, besides the grant from the Union Women and Child Development Ministry, the Samiti received more than Rs 4 lakh in donation and Rs 74,000 as Covid donation. The shelter did not receive any aid from the Centre in this financial year, according to sources in the state Women and Child Development Department, which is entrusted with monitoring the functioning of the Ujjawala home.
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