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41 ‘minor’ girls rescued from ashram in north Delhi’s Rohini, says DCW

The HC-appointed panel and child welfare committee members inspected the ashram and rescued the girls kept in ‘illegal confinement’

delhi Updated: Dec 22, 2017 12:01 IST
Delhi news,ncr news,minors rescued
Police officials visited the campus of Virendra Dixit's ashram for search operations at Vijay Vihar in New Delhi on Wednesday.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

Over forty girls were rescued from an ashram in north Delhi’s Rohini area days after the high court formed a panel consisting of lawyers and Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief, to inspect the premises of the institute where girls and women were allegedly kept in illegal confinement.

The DCW chief Swati Jaihind on Thursday said that the panel along with members from child welfare committee (CWC) inspected the Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya and rescued 41 girls, who will now be counselled.

“The CWC interviewed all the girls and rescued 41 of them who clearly looked like minors. All the girls and women there appeared in a trance like they were drugged. Steps also need to be taken to rescue the adult women who are left there,” she said.

The DCW chief said the girls will be counselled and their parents will be contacted. “The age of the girls will also be verified. The head of the institution should be arrested,” she said.

DCP (Rohini) Rajneesh Gupta said they had sent a team to assist the CWC and the girls were handed over to the competent authorities. While he did not reveal the number of policemen who carried out the search, he said adequate arrangements were made.

The HC had on Wednesday ordered a CBI probe into the alleged illegal confinement of girls and women in the ashram where, it was claimed, they were kept in “animal-like” conditions behind metal doors in a “fortress” surrounded by barbed wire.

On Thursday, the ashram claimed that the female inmates there were not illegally confined, to which the HC questioned as to why were they kept behind locked doors. A bench of acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice C Hari Shankar asked why the ashram’s founder and spiritual head was not making an appearance if he was genuine and honest.

“Where is he? This inquiry (by the CBI) into the ashram, where girls and women were allegedly kept in illegal confinement will throw him in suspicion, if he does not appear,” the bench said and sought his appearance before the CBI.

The counsel for the ashram, however, told the bench that its founder was not in Delhi and he has sent the message about the court’s order through someone else.

Irked over the counsel’s statement, the court wished to know about the whereabouts of Virender Dev Dixit, referred to as the founder and spiritual head of the ashram.

It directed the counsel to give information about Dixit by Friday, while cautioning him not to act as proxy between the founder and the court.

First Published: Dec 22, 2017 00:22 IST