Police on Friday arrested a religious leader from Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar for allegedly sexually assaulting minors in his ashram over the past several months.
Officials said 10 minors, all in the age group of 10-14 years and hailing from Tripura and Mizoram, were rescued from the ashram earlier this week, and after their medical examination confirmed rape, an FIR was lodged against the religious leader and an ashram worker.
The arrests were made after an anonymous call was made to Childline, the nodal agency for the Ministry of Child and Welfare Development.
“A call was made to Childline number 1098 which said that there are minors being treated badly at an ashram. Counsellors from Childline visited the ashram and conducted counselling sessions and they found some things suspicious. They sought police help and we raided the ashram and rescued the children,” the Circle Officer for the area where the ashram is located said.
“After conducting medical examination, sexual assault was confirmed and on Friday their statements were recorded. Strict action will be taken against the godman,” the officer said.
Ruchi Verma from Muzaffarnagar’s Childline centre said, “When we visited (the ashram), we found the children in a deplorable state. They were not wearing masks and one of them was cleaning the floor and doing work they were not supposed to be doing.”
According to the child rights workers, the minors hailed from extremely poor backgrounds and were sent with the expectation of being educated.
Some of the minors have been staying in the ashram for the past three years, police said.
The minors have been kept in quarantine and will be tested for the coronavirus on Saturday. Statements of four minors have been recorded under CrPc Section 164, while the statements of six others will be speaking in front of the magistrate on Monday. The children will be under the supervision of the District Probation Officer and Child Welfare Committee.
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