Apna Ghar: 3 brave girls, child rights panel’s swift action took lid off scandal
HT accessed Vinod Kumar Tikoo’s testimony before the CBI court, who was the then NCPCR member and involved in initial counselling of the victims and search operation at Apna Ghar.india Updated: Apr 19, 2018 13:04 IST
It was the courageous escape of three girls from Apna Ghar in Rohtak on May 7, 2012 that exposed the naked dance of brutality inside it.
What followed was the swift rescue operation by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) that took the lid off from this scandal. A day after escape, girls reached Delhi via Bhiwani where they were rescued following their call to child helpline number.
HT accessed Vinod Kumar Tikoo’s testimony before the CBI court, who was the then NCPCR member and involved in initial counselling of the victims and search operation at Apna Ghar.
As per Tikoo, the coordinator of childline visited NCPCR office on May 9 and narrated the whole story about escape of three girls.
Since it was a matter of inter-state violation of child rights, the NCPCR deputed two woman consultants along with Delhi’s Child Welfare Committee (CWC) to seek information on the reason of their escape.
“At 6 pm on the same day, I got a call from CWC member who informed that the girls had narrated horrific stories of gross physical, mental and sexual abuse of children in Rohtak’s shelter home and that there were a large number of minors in the home,” stated Tikoo.
‘Teams rushed to Rohtak to probe allegations’
He added that following his conversation with NCPCR chairperson, teams were immediately rushed to Rohtak, about two hours from Delhi, to inquire into the allegations. Since the the then deputy commissioner was out of country, the ADC was informed of the visit without revealing its actual purpose.
Upon reaching there at night, the ADC was asked to send a police team, officers from the department of social welfare to Shri Nagar colony where Apna Ghar was located.
During interaction with the team, various accounts of mistreating children, mentally and sexually abusing them were given away by a number of victims. Later, around 120 inmates were rescued. A month later, Apna Ghar was sealed and the case was handed over to CBI for probe.
‘Top officials failed to unearth victims’ plight’
Later in his report, Tikoo stated that the visitors’ book revealed visits by dignitaries like deputy commissioner, judicial magistrates, sub-divisional magistrates and other officers. However, none seemed to have interacted with children to get a feel of the ground reality and the treatment meted out to the children. Living conditions were worst as the children were not allowed to venture out of the home and were treated as captive all the time.