Muzaffarpur redux? Couple arrested for allegedly running sex racket at Deoria shelter home in UP, 24 women rescued
A couple who manage a shelter home for women and girls in Uttar Pradesh’s Deoria town has been arrested after inmates were found missing and they were accused of running a sex racket.
Girija Tripathi, her husband Mohan Tripathi and their daughter were arrested after police rescued 24 inmates and found 18 others missing Sunday night. The shelter home, which was funded by the UP government till three years ago, was searched after a 10-year-old girl, who belonged to Bihar’s Betia, escaped by scaling the boundary wall on Sunday night.
She told the police that men visited the shelter home in the evenings and took four or five women along with them after speaking to Girija and Mohan. The women were dropped back late night. She also told the police that inmates were treated like servants and forced to mop floors and clean utensils
“During an investigation, it has come to the fore that wrong things were done with the girls between the age of 15 to 18,” said Deoria’s superintendent of police Rohan P Kanay. Kanay did not elaborate on what he meant by “wrong things”.
“During the raid, 18 of the total 42 women enrolled were found missing. We have arrested the women operator and her husband as they could not give any satisfactory answer,” Kanay said.
Sunday’s raid was the second one after district probationary officer (DPO) Prabhat Kumar went to the shelter home earlier in the week with a police team but was allegedly manhandled by the staff. “A detailed investigation is on into the case with the help of the local administration as well as women and child welfare department,” Kumar said.
“The victims will be sent for a medical examination for sexual harassment and produced before the chief judicial magistrate to record their statement under section 164. Law will take its course of action,” said Anand Kumar, Additional Director General (Law and Order) of UP Police.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is already probing charges that Girija operated the shelter home called Maa Vindyavasini Mahila evam Balika Sanrakshan Grih even after the UP government scrapped its licence in June 2017. The government suspended grants to the shelter house three years ago following charges of irregularities.
Girija moved court and got a stay against the cancellation. She rejected the allegations against her and said she was being arrested as she had demanded the district administration to clear pending bills of the shelter home.
“No such immoral act was done here at the shelter house and the allegations are totally baseless. The girls are with the police, which can take any comment they want,” Tripathi said minutes before she was arrested.
“All the women whose names are enrolled with the shelter house have been recovered and no one is missing,” she said
“The police should clarify as to why they handed over 930 women to the shelter house in the last one year if we were running illegally.”
The incident comes after more than 30 girls were allegedly raped and tortured at the government-funded shelter home in Muzaffarpur over several months.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is under an attack by the opposition, who have demanded the guilty be brought to book and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government of pursuing anti-women policies.