Compelled to stay in locked rooms with roaches in the meals and lack of proper medical treatment, nine inmates of the a women rehab centre in Lucknow were forced to escape on Wednesday.
The revelations were made to the police by three of them who returned later in the night. The remaining five inmates (the three who returned and the two who stayed back) of the Ghazipur rehab centre alleged ill-treatment at the hands of the authorities and demanded immediate remedial measures. They were soon escorted to a government centre in Rae Bareli to ensure their safe stay.
Meanwhile, the social welfare department under which the rehab centre named Lohia Public School Samiti functions has set up a five-member committee to probe into the allegations and ferret out the truth. The centre is meant for abandoned girls and run by a non-government organization.
Top officials said legal action would be initiated against the in-charge and the staff if they were found guilty during the probe.
The committee has been asked to submit the report to the welfare department at the earliest.
Police said so far there were no allegations of sexual exploitation by the inmates. But, they vociferously resent the living conditions in the centre. A few of them alleged that they were badly beaten up and made to starve as a punishment if any of them raised a voice against the system.
On Wednesday afternoon, nine girls had escaped from the centre but three of them returned late night. The three girls, who returned, have charged the centre authorities with ill-treatment and exploitation.
RK Gautam, ACM-IV, confirmed the charges levelled by the inmates against the centre authorities and said, “The three girls, who returned, and two others staying at the centre have blamed the centre authorities for mistreatment. They even alleged beating by the authorities and keeping them locked in a room.”
He admitted that the conditions of inmates were very bad and the two were not in a position to stand on their feet. The duo has been has been bed-ridden for past several days but the centre authorities did not show any concern about their treatment, he added.
The ACM and Ghazipur circle officer (CO) Vishal Pandey had visited the centre after the girls’ alleged mistreatment and exploitation.
Earlier, the centre manager Seikh Israel had lodged the FIR about the the girls’ escape from the centre. He had mentioned in the FIR that nine girls had escaped from the centre after breaking the lock at around 5.30 pm. Ghazipur police station officer (SO) Novendu Siroi said the FIR had been registered for abduction under Section 364 of the IPC. Efforts were on to recover the missing girls.
The centre manager, however, denied the allegations.