Two officials of a children's shelter home in Karjat taluka of Maharashtra's Raigad district were arrested on charges of sexually abusing five minor inmates, police said on Thursday.
Based on the complaints of sexual abuse and harassment at the ashram by parents of some of the children, police arrested Chandraprabha Charitable Trust chairman Ajit Dabholkar and manager Lalita Tonde on Tuesday, they said.
Dabholkar and Tonde were running the ashram at Takve village in Karjat taluka of Raigad for tribal and poor children. About 32 children, in the age group of four to 15 years, were housed there.
The Karjat police, during preliminary investigation, found that four girls and a boy at the ashram, in the age group of 11-15 years, were allegedly sexually abused by the accused duo.
The accused used to allegedly force the children to perform sexual acts in front of them, Karjat police station's assistant police inspector S M Jadhav told PTI.
The accused also used to threaten the inmates that they would be forced to eat their excreta if they refused to comply with their demands, Jadhav said.
The offence came to light when one of the inmates informed her mother, who in turn approached the Raigad Child Helpline, which further complained to the police, he said.
The parents also complained to Pune-based social worker Anuradha Sahastrabudhe, police said.
Subsequently, the two accused were arrested and produced before Raigad district sessions court on May 27, which sent them in police custody till June 5.
The accused have been booked under the Indian Penal Code sections 377 (unnatural offences), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 342 (wrongful confinement) and under sections 3, 5 and 7 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, police added.
Govt to install CCTV cameras
Following the shocking incidents, the Women and Child Development Ministry on Thursday decided to install closed circuit televison cameras in all shelter homes across the country.
“Taking note of the horrifying incident in a children’s shelter home in Raigad district of Maharashtra where minor children are stated to be sexually abused, it has been decided that CCTVs need to be installed in every shelter home,” said a statement by the ministry, headed by Maneka Gandhi.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development in consultation with state governments will work towards this,” the statement said. The government took the decision after shocking tales of rape and torture emerged from an illegally-run shelter for tribal and poor children in Maharashtra’s Raigad district.
Maneka Gandhi, who recently assumed charge of the Ministry, is also learnt to be keen on opening a Facebook account for her ministry, including a page for complaints on issues related to women and children, sexual offences and atrocities.
Image: A children's dorm run by the Chandraprabha Charitable Trust