A special investigation team (SIT) was formed on Friday to probe the alleged rape and molestation of three speech-and-hearing impaired inmates of a hostel in Bhopal. Their exploitation came to light only when they met sign language experts in Indore.
Ashwini Sharma, director of the government-aided hostel, was remanded in two days’ police custody on Friday. He had rented three duplexes where the victims and other inmates lived till recently.
Accusing Sharma of rape, criminal intimidation and wrongful confinement, a 20-year-old tribal woman filed a complaint in a police station in her hometown Dhar on Wednesday after her brother took her home from the hostel.
Two sisters, who lived in the same hostel, filed complaints of molestation at a police station on Thursday.
The FIRs have been transferred to the police station in Bhopal under the jurisdiction of which the duplexes fall.
DIG, Bhopal, Dharmendra Chaudhary told The Indian Express that Sharma, who had reportedly separated from his wife, lived with four speech-and-hearing impaired inmates in one of the duplexes. He used to get a grant of Rs 4,000 per inmate and was supposed to provide them with shelter, food and transport to the industrial training institute they had enrolled with for vocational courses.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, meanwhile, met senior bureaucrats on Friday and ordered monthly inspection of private, government-run and government-aided shelter homes. Presently, government-aided institutions are inspected once in two months. “I am saddened by the incident,’’ he said, adding that the chargesheet will be filed at the earliest. Rules will be framed for private hostels for girls, he announced.
State Congress chief Kamal Nath wrote in a letter to the Chief Minister, “The incident has shamed MP. Thousands of NGOs have mushroomed in the last few years. While some of them are registered, some are operating illegally which means there is no system and policy in place.’’ Nath also asked the Chief Minister to make public names of all unregistered NGOs who receive funds from the government.
Drawing a parallel between the Bhopal incident and similar cases in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the Congress alleged the victim was forced to go to Dhar to file a complaint because Bhopal authorities refused to take a complaint.