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Mankhurd shelter: 'Task force' to trace escaped women

December 04, 2012 15:48 IST

The Maharashtra government has decided to set up a 'task force' comprising two officials each from police and women and child welfare departments to trace the women who escaped from a state-run shelter home.

State Women and Child Welfare Minister Varsha Gaikwad said the task force will be entrusted with the job of tracing the women and ensuring that they are sent back to their homes by completing the legal formalities.

Gaikwad said she has convened a meeting with the Home department on Friday and will send her department officials to the Bangladeshi authorities in Delhi to discuss the process of transferring the women back to their country.

They will discuss the process of 'transfer permit' for the women so that return to their country is expedited. Following the report of the high court committee which probed allegations of harassment of the inmates by the suburban Mankhurd-based Navjivan shelter home authorities, first information reports were registered against 10 officials out of which two and one other person have been suspended.

The high court had appointed the committee to probe the  allegations of harassment after 36 inmates had escaped earlier on October 27 and thirteen of them were caught.

Committee members Dr Haresh Shetty, Dr Asha Bajpai of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Deputy Police Commissioner Rashmi Karandikar had been asked by the  high court to look into the allegations of sexual assault on inmates.

Among those suspended were shelter home superintendent Ashwini Dighe, district women and child welfare development officer Anana Khandagale and ex-superintendent of the shelter home Neeru Sharma.

The FIRs were earlier filed against deputy commissioner of women and child welfare Ravi Patil, divisional deputy commissioner Bharat Pokharkar, acting superintendent of  the shelter home Shobha Shelar, caretakers and other staff.

When asked about the women who escaped on Monday, Gaikwad said an FIR has been lodged in that connection. At present, the shelter home's functioning is being headed by former magistrate Swati Chavan.

Gaikwad said her ministry has sought funds of Rs 65 lakh so that the PWD department can construct a wall, an iron mesh and an additional room in the shelter home.

Earlier, 114 women were sent back to Bangladesh. Presently, there are 108 women in the shelter home out of whom 58 are from Bangladesh. There are 50 women from different states including four from Maharashtra. The Bangladeshi women will be released on December 15 and efforts are on in that direction.

PTI
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