Rita Bahuguna Joshi, woman and child welfare minister of Uttar Pradesh, said on Tuesday that strict action will be taken against those found guilty of negligence or connivance in the sexual exploitation racket that came to light in the state's Deoria district.
She also took potshots at the Opposition parties, saying parties under whose regimes shelter homes in Muzaffarpur and Deoria grew, are now turning the issue into a political one.
Joshi also said that whether it was "negligence or connivance" will be decided when the reports come in, ANI reported. She said Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is firm that those responsible will not be spared. "The chief minister is monitoring this issue, " she said.
On Monday, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi expressed shock over the incident saying that there would be more such places to unearth. Gandhi claimed that MPs across all states were not paying attention to their constituencies despite several warnings. "Not a single MP has ever visited any shelter homes in their constituency to check what is happening behind those closed doors," she said.
DNA reported that she asked the states to build a single large central facility to house such children in a bid to prevent "abuse and misuse" by NGOs. She said the adoption and skill development programmes in a central facility would be much easier and it would also help in checking "abuse and misuse" by NGOs who are running their own shelter homes with grants from the government.
"I have been asking for a scheme where each state should have a single large facility to house all such girls and children which should be run by the state government," she said.
Twenty-four girls were rescued from a shelter home in Deoria after allegations of sexual exploitation of the inmates came to light, prompting the Uttar Pradesh government to swing into damage control mode by removing the district magistrate and ordering a high-level probe.
Police said three people, including a couple who ran the shelter, were arrested in connection with the matter. "Twenty-four girls were rescued on Sunday from the shelter home at station road in the name of Ma Vindhyawasini Mahila Prakishan Evam Samaj Sewa Sansthan, which has 42 inmates. Eighteen inmates are still missing. We have sealed it," superintendent of police Rohan P Kanay said in Deoria.
The details of activities at the shelter home emerged when a 10-year-old girl managed to flee. She reached a woman police station and informed them about the plight of the inmates. "Many times white, black and red cars used to come and take away the girls. When the returned in the morning, they used to cry," the girl alleged.
The SP of Deoria said the young girl told the police that around 4 pm every day, some people came and took away some girls along with the manager. The 10-year-old girl belongs to Bihar's Bettiah city and she also told the police that she escaped because of heavy workload.
Girija Tripathi and her husband Mohan Tripathi, who operated the shelter home, were arrested along with its superintendent Kanchanlata. However, Girija Tripathi told reporters that the charges were baseless and payment of last three years was pending, so she was running the shelter home.
The Deoria SP was directed by the Uttar Pradesh police headquarters in Lucknow has promised to take stern action against the culprits. "The entire matter will be investigated and the local administration is already taking action. The Women and Child Development Department is also coordinating. The inquiry will be done under proper legal procedure," ADG law and order Anand Kumar said in Lucknow.
The medical test of the children would be made by a woman doctor and the statement recorded before a magistrate, Anand said.
The matter comes in the backdrop of the alleged sexual abuse of young girls at a state-funded shelter home in Bihar's Muzaffarpur which led to a public outcry. Sexual abuse of 34 inmates out of 42 was confirmed in medical examination.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Aug 07, 2018 12:30:48 IST