More ‘minor’ girls rescued from west Delhi branch of Rohini ashram
The raids that started around 1pm continued for almost three hours. DCW said that the age proof documents of the five confirmed that they were minors. The documents of other sixteen are being verified.Updated: Dec 24, 2017 16:16 IST
Five ‘minor’ girls were rescued from another ashram belonging to the founder and spiritual head of Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya in southwest Delhi’s Mohan Garden by the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), Child Welfare Committee (CWC), and a Delhi Police contingent on Saturday.
The rescued were allegedly confined along with 16 other women in “prison-like” conditions on two floors of a private building, much similar to the group’s Rohini ashram from where 41 girls were rescued on Thursday by the DCW.
The raids that started around 1pm continued for almost three hours. DCW said that the age proof documents of the five confirmed that they were minors. The documents of other sixteen are being verified.
“Just rescued 5 more girls identified as minors by CWC from Baba’s ashram at Mohan Garden. Same prison like situation here. Locals informing that many girls were removed earlier yesterday morning before our last night visit. Also that they often heard the girls crying at night (Sic),” tweeted DCW chief Swati Maliwal after the raid.
Maliwal said that boxes were found in the ashram that contained letters with “explicit content” allegedly written to the female inmates by ashram founder Virender Dev Dixit.
The issue had come to light due to a PIL filed by an NGO Foundation for Social Empowerment before the Delhi High Court. It had informed the court that several minors and women were allegedly being illegally confined at the Rohini ashram.
Following the PIL, the high court had set up a committee, comprising lawyers and DCW chief Swati Maliwal, CWC, DCP (Rohini) Rajneesh Gupta, to inspect the premises of the institute. The court also asked the committee to inspect eight other similar centres being run by Dixit in Delhi.
On Friday evening, Maliwal along with a police team and a high court-appointed lawyer visited the Mohan Garden ashram and interacted with 21 female inmates. The DCW alleged that the ashram had prison like surroundings.
“There were stacks of medicines and no registers were maintained to record as to where did the girls come from and for how long they have been there. All girls gave evasive replies. It was discovered that many girls were undergoing psychological treatment and had been shifted from the Vijay Vihar (Rohini) ashram. It appeared that psychologically ill girls from Vijay Vihar ashram were often shifted here,” the DCW said in a press statement.
The owner of the building told the raiding teams that he himself was a follower of the “godman’ and had contributed the two floors to Dixit for running the ashram. The owner claimed that nobody in his family has visited the two floors in the last seven years, said police sources.
Local residents claimed that the girls were being tormented for years. “It was like someone turned on a record at night. From 2am till 5am, we would hear screams of girls. But we would never see them in daylight. Every night cars would come and go. It was going on for years,” said a local, Meena Singh.
No clean chit ever given to the ashram: Police
Delhi Police on Saturday said that it had not given any clean chit to the ashram and its founder in previous complaints filed by families of some female inmates and the two rape FIRs registered in January and November this year.
Madhur Verma, PRO of the Delhi Police, said that a family from Rajasthan filed a complaint last month, alleging that their daughter was kept confined in the Rohini ashram.
“The then DCP visited the ashram and recorded the woman’s statement in which she claimed that she was willingly living there. She, in fact, accused her family of forcing her for marriage,” Verma said, responding to some media reports that the DCP had given clean chit to the ashram in that complaint.
“We are following the instructions of the high court,” he added.
First Published: Dec 23, 2017 22:04 IST