Bhopal/Patna: Close on the heels of the shocking detection of the “sexual abuse” of at least 34 minor girls living in a shelter home at Muzaffarpur in Bihar, a 20 year old speech-impaired tribal girl has come forward and lodged a similar complaint with the Police alleging that she was raped repeatedly by the director of a hostel in the capital of the central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh where she was staying for last three years.
The accused Ashwini Sharma, the director of the hostel for deaf and mute persons at Awadhpuri here was arrested on Wednesday night (8 August 2018) under Sections 376, 354, 344 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). These cover rape, outraging of modesty, wrongful confinement and criminal intimidation. He has also been charged under relevant sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The NGO “Kritaarth” managed by the rape Accused was receiving grant in aid from the State Social Justice Department for running the hostel.
The victim, a resident of Dhar near Indore, had lodged a compliant with the Dhar district police. Subsequently the case was transferred to Bhopal. It remains to be investigated whether or not there was just one victim or more of the hostel inmates were sexually abused.
The Madhya Pradesh Congress unit has gone on the offensive and demanded a through probe and social audit of all such hostels in the State.
Rape is a heinous crime that shatters and leaves the victim with unlimited trauma for life and the fact that the perpetrators are able to pick their targets and strike at will is a serious matter and needs immediate attention. Rape of a speech-impaired tribal girl staying in a hostel run with the help of the exchequer throws up many questions and the government owes an explanation to the public.
An NGO entitled for grant to run such a hostel has to follow procedures, rules and certain norms. Besides, such a facility is also supposed to be governed by strict checks and balances, including regular inspections capped with satisfactory performance reports. An entire hierarchy within the government is supposed to oversee the affairs to ensure that all is on track. Those who play any official role in this direction, even their working is supposed to be monitored down the line within the concerned department and also at the government level, which includes the district Collector.
The problem is that it suits those in the government, who have abdicated their responsibilities, to pass the buck. When such acts of crime are reported, FIRs are registered, the main accused get arrested, law takes its own course, inquiries are conducted and as people’s memory is short and since no one comes forward to seek a remedy for systemic failure, things slide back to routine and the world moves on. This has to change and it will. But for this the civil society shall have to come forward and convey to the people that its high time they should start calling the shots and telling the authorities that they will have to own up responsibility. People would also have to tell the political masters, at least by using their right to vote, that they know where the buck should stop.
In Bihar, the State Social Welfare Department Minister Manju Verma resigned on Wednesday (8 August) as heat was mounting over the allegation that her husband was a regular at the Muzaffarpur shelter home for girls.
The Muzaffarour shelter home was being managed by Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti, an NGO run by Brajesh Thakur, the prime accused. He was arrested on 2 June 2018.