More girls may have been sexually abused at J’khand shelter home: Police
An investigation into the alleged sexual abuse of two minor girls at a children’s home run by a state government-approved NGO, Mother Teresa Welfare Trust (MTWT), has found that more girl inmates were being abused there for over four years, Jamshedpur senior superintendent of police Dr M Tamil Vanan has said.
Police said they have expanded the scope of the investigation in the light of the findings.
Police on Tuesday said an FIR under Pocso (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act and sections of the Indian Penal Code was lodged on the complaint of the two rescued girls against Harpal Singh Thapar, director of the home, his wife Pushpa Rani Tirkey, who is also the chairperson of East Singhbhum district child welfare committee (CWC), warden Geeta Singh, her son Aditya Singh, and another staff member Tony Singh. All the accused are on the run.
Vanan said that the two girls, aged 16 and 17, have given video-recorded statements in which they have reiterated all the charges made in their statements to the special Pocso court. The girls said they were physically and mentally tortured at the home and made to give in to the sexual demands of the perpetrators.
Police said the details are horrifying. “Investigation has found that Thapar allegedly had physical relations with the 19-year-old daughter of the warden, and he, along with others, used to sexually abuse and exploit the woman on a regular basis,” said Dr Vanan.
The girls said they were in the children’s home for the past four years, but no action was taken despite repeated complaints to Tirkey, the CWC chief, the SSP said, adding that the police were looking at the involvement of some other suspects as well.
The death of a three-and-a-half-year-old girl due to brain tumour in the home 25 days ago is also being investigated. “This little girl was the daughter of a rape survivor who didn’t want to keep her. Thapar and his wife didn’t inform the police or the district administration about the death, which they were legally bound to,” SSP Dr Vanan stated in his report to the Jamshedpur deputy commissioner, Suraj Kumar.
Police are still awaiting medical reports of the two rescued girls to determine if they were raped.
MTWT is a Jharkhand-government-approved NGO. It has no links with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. The shelter home located at Shamsher Tower in Kharangajhar had 23 girls in two rooms on the second floor, while the warden lived in another room on the same floor with her daughter and son. Thapar and Tirkey lived on the first floor, while 22 boys lived on the ground floor.
Police has recommended to the district collector to act against MTWT and CWC chief Tirkey, and to rehabilitate the girls. Twenty-one girls are being taken care of by the Seraikela-Kharsawan CWC for the time being.
Vanan said police were also probing allegations that Thapar and Tirkey used to transfer government funds and private donations into their personal accounts. “The girls told us that they took away the money donated to them by many people for clothing, food and other items. All the five named accused will be arrested soon as different teams are raiding possible hideouts,” he said.
In a similar case at a shelter home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, which came to the fore in three years ago, 12 people, including main accused Brajesh Thakur, were sentenced to life imprisonment in February 2020 by a Delhi court, which heard the case following orders from the Supreme Court.