India

Over 100 women, some intoxicated, found 'trapped' in Delhi ashram

21 Dec 2017 | By Gogona Saikia
Sex and drugs racket in Delhi ashram

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's conviction seems to have unravelled similar garbs of 'spirituality' worn by other 'godmen'.

The latest to be nabbed is the Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya founded by Virender Dev Dixit.

About 100 women were found 'trapped' in the ashram in Delhi's Rohini. Many were under influence of drugs.

But they could have been saved earlier had cops taken action, an NGO claims.

In context: Sex and drugs racket in Delhi ashram

21 Dec 2017Over 100 women, some intoxicated, found 'trapped' in Delhi ashram

RaidWhy was the ashram raided in the first place?

A raid was conducted on the ashram premises on the evening of December 19 after an NGO, the Foundation for Social Empowerment, filed a PIL in the HC.

They alleged minors and women were illegally confined at the "spiritual university".

Parents of some minors had also made similar complaints.

On the HC's orders, teams consisting police, DCW members and advocates raided the premises.

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Extreme hostility by ashram members at the start

Initially, the team faced extreme hostility. There were locked metal gates at short intervals. The team was reportedly held hostage for 45 minutes by inmates. When they called for more personnel, the inmates formed a human shield around them, says India Today.
Once inside, the inspection team saw alarming scenes

DiscoveryOnce inside, the inspection team saw alarming scenes

After they entered the premises, they found over 100 women in "animal-like conditions with no privacy": they were kept in dark spaces with no sunlight and metal grills "with nowhere to exit".

Many appeared intoxicated.

Some were sick, but they couldn't explain their illness or medicines.

Some said they were actively discouraged from interacting with the outside world. Many alleged rape by the 'baba'.

Teams seized sexually explicit letters, syringes, medicines

The teams recovered "suitcases full of letters", many alleging sexual abuse and some sexually-explicit ones addressed from women to Dixit. Syringes and medicines were also seized.

AshramIn the ashram's defense

An ashram member denied allegations of wrongdoings and said the women were staying there of their own will. "(They're) are being fed well and taught yoga and Atharva gyan."

Maliwal said few of the women had also claimed they were there for "gyan".

However, "we found no books or materials that indicated spiritual knowledge being imparted," she said.

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Did police inaction delay rescue indefinitely?

According to DCW Chief Swati Maliwal, residents of the locality had reported their suspicions of a sex racket being run in the ashram to police several times. Many girls of the ashram had also committed suicide, but police never registered a case, claimed the NGO.

ProbeDelhi HC directs various agencies to examine legality of ashram

For now, the HC has ordered medical examination of all inmates. The Delhi health secretary has been ordered to send a team of doctors.

Delhi Police have been asked to provide protection to the inspection teams.

The NDMC has been directed to determine whether the ashram's construction is legal.

Inspection of a second building housing male inmates has been ordered.