Written byGogona Saikia
Officials in Bihar had at least 2.5 months to rescue more than 30 girls from abuse at a Muzaffarpur shelter home, but their delayed action meant prolonged torture for the minors.
It apparently happened in Deoria (UP) too. The district administration ignored 20 letters with similar complaints against a home as inmates suffered.
Meanwhile, locals were left wondering how the management became wealthy overnight after opening an NGO.
The goings-on at the Vidhvansani Mahila and Balika Sanrakshan Griha came to light after a 10-year-old inmate, a native of Bihar's Betia, managed to escape Sunday.
She informed cops that men used to visit the home in the evenings and take four-five girls away with them.
She also alleged they were forced to do household work, like mopping floors and cleaning utensils.
Incidentally, this little girl's claims weren't the first. State women and child welfare minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi said yesterday that 20 letters had been sent to the district administration and social welfare department urging action against the home, but to no avail.
The children weren't shifted to proper accommodation either.
The district child welfare committee and the home management ignored directions too.
The state government had cancelled the home's license in June'17, Joshi added, but Girija Tripathi, one of the prime accused, claimed she had got it stayed after challenging the matter in court.
However, Joshi said these claims were false. "We are checking the facts."
On July 30, Joshi's ministry lodged an FIR against the home. Even then, no action was taken against Tripathi, she said.
Meanwhile, the wealth of the "secretive" Girija and husband Mohan Tripathi grew manifold in eight years, after she started an NGO and opened the shelter.
"Swanky cars" would be stationed outside the home regularly, residents said, but they never suspected anything as police dropped off girls at the home regularly.
"I've never seen any of the girls outside unattended," said Kamal Singh, a local.
Girija, Mohan and their daughter were among the five arrested after a raid on the home's premises Sunday.
Twenty-four inmates were rescued, and 18 of 42 women registered were found missing.
Girija has denied the allegations. "Police should clarify why they handed over 930 women if we were running illegally," she demanded.
She claimed she had been arrested as she was demanding pending dues from the administration.
The government has now suspended the district magistrate and initiated a two-member inquiry. "This is a subject of investigation and we are looking into each aspect. A government-level probe is also underway," said ADM Finance Sita Ram Gupta.
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