Misuse of state funds for CSWs: Pune police arrest five

As per the complaint, accused took 10,000 out of every 15,000 they accessed, on the pretext of paying government officials
A residential complex where CSWs stay in Budhwar Peth in Pune. (HT PHOTO)
A residential complex where CSWs stay in Budhwar Peth in Pune. (HT PHOTO)
Updated on May 14, 2021 04:55 PM IST
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ByPrachi Bari

PUNE A week after HT reported how funds meant for sex workers (CSWs) as part of assistance offered by government during lockdown had been siphoned, Pune police arrested five persons in the case on Thursday.

According to officials, an FIR has been filed against six persons, including three women from KayaKalp, an NGO. The complaint accuses the six of diverting the state funds. As per the complaint the accused took 10,000 out of every 15,000 they accessed, on the pretext of paying government officials.

Dattawadi police arrested Gauri Gurang (32), a resident of Dhanakwadi; Savita Karishma Lashkare (26), and Sarika Lashkare (30), both residents of Yerawada; Amol Mali (25), and Mahesh Ghadsingh (20).

The sixth suspect, identified with a last name as Sonawane, is currently not traceable, said police.

“The accused were produced before the court which remanded them to police custody till May 17,” said assistant public prosecutor Kiran Bendhar.

The state government had released 7.94 crore to be transferred to 5,296 bank accounts belonging to sex workers in Pune based on a Supreme Court order that victims of the flesh trade be compensated by the administration with provision of foodgrains and cash. The court ruled that no documentary proof must be taken from victims while delivering the welfare measures.

HT reported that how part of funds went to the bank accounts of women not CSWs, living in Annabhau Sathe nagar, Tarawade vasti, and Mohammadwadi.

“The Dattawadi police conducted an inquiry of 75 women and found out that 6,000 sex workers were eligible for the funds. We have spoken to 75 women who were not sex workers and yet, were paid this amount. We are now investigating the list provided by Kaya Kalp to see how many of the women registered are genuine sex workers,” said police inspector Krishna Indalkar, an investigating official in the case.

Pune district collector Rajesh Deshmukh has also ordered n inquiry under sub-divisional magistrate Santosh Kumar Deshmukh.

“I have spoken to 20 of the women that the police inquired into and they all pointed to an individual running an Aids control organisation. We are preparing the data which will be presented to the collector on Monday,” said Deshmukh.

Saheli Sangh, an NGO, and the National Network of Sex Workers (India), have meanwhile protested and condemned the corruption.

“We have been conducting a rapid assessment survey among the 2,000-odd sex workers in Budhwar peth and so far, we have covered 358 women of which 138 are saying they did not receive the money even after submitting documents,” said Tejasvi Sevekari of Saheli Sangh.

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