Police start probe into allegations of abuse at private orphanage in Indore | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Police start probe into allegations of abuse at private orphanage in Indore

By, Bhopal
Jan 19, 2024 05:11 AM IST

The orphanage, run by the Vatsalyapuram Jain Trust, had not been registered under the Juvenile Justice Act for the past three years.

Police are investigating allegations that 21 girls aged four to 14 at a private orphanage in Indore were abused and tortured in horrifying ways such as being branded with iron tongs, forcibly made to inhale smoke from burning red chillies, and hung upside down from a railing, officials said on Thursday.

Another inmate told officials that the management would hang them upside down from the railing on the first floor, and forced them to inhale chilli smoke as punishment (Getty Images)
Another inmate told officials that the management would hang them upside down from the railing on the first floor, and forced them to inhale chilli smoke as punishment (Getty Images)

An FIR under Sections 323 (physical assault) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act (punishment for cruelty to a child) was registered a week after the Indore child welfare committee and the district administration inspected the orphanage.

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Senior officials of the committee said they were intimated of the allegations of abuse at the orphanage run by the Vatsalyapuram Jain Trust on January 12, after which they raided the premises on January 13.

“We rescued 21 girls who have now been shifted to two other shelters in Indore. On Wednesday, committee chairperson Pallavi Porwal filed a complaint at the Vijay Nagar police station against four persons, including the manager and caretakers,” the official said. The accused are yet to be arrested.

Sangeeta Chaudhary, a CWC member who is part of the probe, said there were 25 girls registered at the orphanage and 21 were present in the premises on the day of the raid.

“Of the 21, there are only three that belong to Madhya Pradesh while the others are from Gujarat, Odisha, Maharashtra and Rajasthan,” Chaudhary said. She added that the trust, which also has orphanages in Bengaluru, Surat, Jodhpur and Kolkata, was running without being registered under the JJ Act for the past three years.

Officials said statements by the inmates suggested they all lived in a single hall, where they would sleep, eat and study. There was only one changing room, and mattresses were laid out on the floor.

“The girls have said that if they did not complete their homework, they were often locked up in the washroom for two days without food and water, and were sometimes branded with iron tongs,” the official said. In a medical examination on Thursday, at least two girls showed signs of burn injuries on their bodies, officials said.

One statement registered with the committee, which HT has seen,documented that the caretaker and managers of the orphanage would give the children stale food and rotten fruits. “If we refused to consume them, the caretaker would force us to eat them and thrash us,” the statement said.

Another inmate told officials that the management would hang them upside down from the railing on the first floor, and forced them to inhale chilli smoke as punishment.

Bhagwan Das Sahu, child protection officer of the women and child development department, said, “We have found that there was no restriction on the visits of outsiders. There are several pictures of men in the orphanage. The girls have said that a male partner of the caretaker spent at least five days at the orphanage a few weeks ago. This is all against the existing norms.There has been no allegation of sexual harassment but we are continuing counselling and medical examinations, and we will know more then.”

CB Singh, town inspector of the Vijay Nagar police station said, “The FIR has been registered under IPC section 323 and section 75 of the JJ Act. The medical examination was carried out on Thursday of all the 21 girls who were rescued and we may add more stringent sections based on the medical reports. The investigation is underway.”

Shikha Jain, director of the trust, rejected the allegations of abuse and said while the Madhya Pradesh government wanted them to register under the Juvenile Justice Act, they did not take aid from the government and therefore did not need to do so. “The trust is 40-year-old and runs orphanages in five dates. All these allegations are false and fabricated,” Jain claimed.

CWC chairperson Pallavi Porwal said, “The JJ Act came into force to protect the minors from all kind of harassments and give them safety and security. What do they mean by that they didn’t want to register under the Act. In India, laws are equal for all and they are receiving financial aid in the name of protection and shelter of child. All the orphanages and shelters have to register under the JJ Act so that officials can visit the place for monitoring.”

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