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Differently-abled inmates of MP hostel allege rape, sodomy by ex-armyman and 3 others

Three FIRs were registered against the accused, 71-year-old MP Awasthi, who was detained on Friday night and later arrested, said police.

india Updated: Sep 15, 2018 23:51 IST
Shruti Tomar
Shruti Tomar
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Bhopal hostel rape,MP hostel rape,Retired armyman accused of rape
19 inmates and former inmates of a Bhopal hostel for differently-abled students have lodged complaints of rape, sodomy, sexual harassment and physical assault.(AFP File Photo)

Another horror story of abuse unfolded in Bhopal Friday night after nineteen inmates and ex-inmates of a hostel for differently-abled students run by a retired soldier lodged complaints of rape, sodomy, sexual harassment and physical assault against him and three others, police said.

Three FIRs were registered at two police stations against the accused 71-year-old MP Awasthi who was detained on Friday night and later arrested, said police. Three other accused - hostel caretaker Mita Mishra, her husband Vijay Mishra and teacher Rakesh Chaudhary - were also arrested. All the accused will be produced before the court on Sunday, said police.

Additional superintendent of police, Bhopal Sanjay Sahu said two FIRs were registered at TT Nagar police station - one by four boys who alleged sodomy and physically assault and the other by two women (18 years and 24 years old) alleging rape.

The third FIR was registered by the social justice department at Khajoori police station under which jurisdiction the hostel comes, against Awasthi and other three employees on behalf of 13 girl inmates. With these complainants, the number of complainants rose to nineteen on Saturday.

The complainants have also alleged that there have been three deaths under mysterious circumstances in the hostel. However, police authorities said they would first probe the charges before adding any charge for murder in the FIRs.

Superintendent of police, Bhopal north Hemant Chauhan said, “The retired army man has been running the hostel for the past 25 years in Bhopal for specially abled students of class 1 to 8. He also used to run a hostel in Hoshangabad but it was closed down in 2017 after one of the women lodged a complaint of harassment against him with the district administration.”

“We will track all the inmates, who were enrolled with the hostel, to find out any missing inmate. We will also record their statements,” he added.

The social justice department has also started an inquiry.

“Most of them are shy and traumatised so they didn’t open up immediately. But when we assured them that they would be safe and secure and they won’t face any further trauma, 13 more girls came forward to lodge complaints against the hostel director and others,” said Krishna Gopal Tiwari, director, social justice department.

“There are 100 (42 boys and 58 girls) students in the hostel. The department has asked district adminsitration to provide security to the students and made arrangements to shift them to other hostel as soon as possible,” he added.

The filing of the FIR was preceded by a protest from a group of Congress workers and leaders led by the state Congress media in charge Shobha Oza, at TT Nagar police station. They left the police station after Friday midnight only after the FIRs were lodged and the hostel director arrested.

Oza said, “The hostel’s branch at Hoshangabad was blacklisted by the district administration over there in 2017 after sexual harassment charges against the same director. However, no FIR was lodged in this connection. The matter should have inquired then and there only.”

An activist, who didn’t wish to be named, said, “I flagged the matter to social justice department last month when similar sexual harassment incidents were reported from another hostel for specially abled persons in Bhopal but nothing significant moved in the direction.”

However, Tiwari denied any complaints were lodged earlier. “Nobody lodged any formal complaint to the department. A team was sent to the hostel on August 11 but it didn’t see any problem over there. We will also take action against the team which visited the hostel.”

Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the government would try to ensure that the accused would get capital punishment.

Last month, the director of a private hostel was arrested by police in Bhopal for allegedly raping two speech and hearing impaired tribal girls and molesting two other inmates.

First Published: Sep 15, 2018 23:15 IST