Twenty four girls have been rescued from a women’s shelter in Uttar Pradesh’s Deoria district while 18 others are still missing. After one of the girls managed to escape the shelter last night and informed the cops that girls from the shelter were picked up at night and dropped in the morning, the police raided the shelter and rescued them. Girija Tripathi and her husband Mohan Tripathi, who ran the shelter, were arrested and the shelter was sealed.
The girls have been sent for medical examination and their statement will be recorded before a magistrate, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said. “The Women and Child Development Department is also coordinating. The inquiry will be done under proper legal procedure,” he said.
The privately run shelter in Deoria, about 300 km from Lucknow, earlier received funds from the government, but its affiliation was cancelled in 2017 following a nationwide enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which found irregularities in its functioning.
However, the couple continued to run the home. When a police team went to inspect the home last week, the duo misbehaved and turned them away. A First Information Report or an FIR was filed against them.
Last night, a minor girl ran away from the shelter and locals took her to the police station where she narrated her ordeal and that of girls between the ages of 15 and 18, who she alleged were being forced to engage in sexual activities and work as servants by the couple.
“The girl who escaped had been staying at the home for the last three years. She said they treated her like a servant. She also told us many girls were taken away in cars at night. They returned in the morning and cried through the day. Adoptions were also happening in an illegal manner here. We are looking into it and searching for the missing girls,” Superintendent of Police Rohan P Kanay said. Investigations are underway, he added.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Women and Child Welfare Minister of Uttar Pradesh, clarified that the shelter was completely illegal. “After the CBI investigation, legal notice was sent to the sansthan for its closure and its accreditation was also cancelled. The case is pending in high court. About two weeks ago, an FIR was filed and the administration directed the sansthan to transfer the girls to state-run shelters. Strict action will be taken against the couple,” she said.
The case comes to light amid massive outrage over the sexual abuse of girls at a state-funded shelter in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur. Over 30 girls, one as young as seven years, put up at the shelter were raped allegedly by the man made in charge by the government. Allegations have also been made against the husband of a minister in Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s government.