Following the arrest of four members from the management on charge of allegedly raping five mentally-challenged girls at the Kalyani Mahila and Bal Seva Sanstha in Panvel, the police are now probing the possibility of a sex racket.
The orphanage was sealed by the Kalamboli police on Saturday.
Senior police inspector of Kalamboli police station, SK Dubbal, said, “The medical reports confirm that the girls have been raped. Prima facie, it appears that Ramchandra Karanjulekar raped the girls. We are investigating if there were other men involved in it too.”
“We are looking into the possibility of a sex racket. The accused, however, claim that the girls broke each other’s hymen, which seems very unlikely,” Dubbal added.
The abuse was revealed in a report by the high-court appointed State Coordination Committee for Child Protection. Based on the report, the divisional Child Welfare Committee (CWC) had conducted a probe and confirmed the rape of five of the nineteen girls (aged between 12 to 22 years) at the orphanage.
Four of these girls are deaf and mute. The committee had reported ‘physical and possible sexual abuse’ at the orphanage and had claimed that the ‘girls’ security and well-being’ was at risk.
Acting on the findings of the investigation, Kalyani Karanjulekar, 25, president of the orphanage, Ramchandra Karanjulekar, the director and her father, his wife Surekha and Sonali Bharde, care-taker, were arrested by the police on Friday.
The four accused were presented in the Panvel court on Saturday, that has remanded them to police custody till March 15.
Smita Kale, a CWC member, said, “On visiting the orphanage, our committee members suspected that there was something wrong with the state of affairs. Outsiders had easy access to the girls and there was no security in place. The medical probe confirmed our suspicion.”
Mangala Lambukar, another member, added, “The girls have been living in the orphanage for the past seven years. They have been transferred to a home in Karjat. Soon, they will be moved to good NGO homes.”