A 16-year-old mentally challenged girl has told the sessions court the story of how she was raped,sodomised,beaten,tortured and intimidated for years at a state-supported orphanage by the institutions authorities.
The girl,who narrated her story in long sessions spread over four days,was the first of 19 victims to depose at an in-camera hearing expedited and monitored by Bombay High Court. A deaf-mute child is expected to depose next,sometime next week.
According to the prosecution,the victims mentally and physically challenged girls between the ages of 14 and 18,at least four of whom are also deaf-mute were physically abused for several years at the Kalyani Mahila Bal Seva Sanstha orphanage in Panvel before being rescued in March 2011.
Sanstha founders Ramchandra Karanjule and his wife Surekha,and an administrator named Sonali Badte are the prime accused in the case. The Karanjules daughter Kalyani,and some other employees of the Sanstha too were allegedly involved in the abuse of the inmates.
Of the 10 accused,Surekha and Kalyani are on bail. All have been booked for rape,sodomy,attempt to murder and criminal intimidation,along with offences under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
The girl who deposed is a slow learner and has difficulty in comprehending. But she stood her ground and narrated details of incidents that corroborated the contents of the chargesheet,sources said. The prosecution hopes to be able to bring at least four other victims to depose.
Medical experts and other witnesses have already been examined. A few victims are in such bad shape that they will not be able to face sustained questioning. So we decided to bring in only a few witnesses. Police have recorded statements of victims before a magistrate,which is admissable in the trial court, Special Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian said.
In their statements,the victims have spoken of being branded with hot spoons,burnt with cigarettes,and pricked with pins. When some victims protested,the accused allegedly tried to murder them.
Salian said extra care had been taken to protect the victim in court. The victim was separately dealt with,and psychiatric help was made available to her. It was ensured that she did not come into any contact with the accused, Salian said.