Rohtak Apna Ghar case: Court testimony of victims reveals house of horror
Inmates of Apna Ghar, an NGO-run shelter in Rohtak’s Shrinagar, have accused the in-charge Jaswanti Devi and her family of rape, sexual exploitation and physical and mental abuse.Updated: Apr 19, 2018 11:26 IST
Situated in Shrinagar colony, a middle class neighbourhood in the heart of Jat-dominated Rohtak, Apna Ghar was meant to be a shelter home for all those who had no place to go. But be it mentally challenged, minors or adults, no one was spared from their protectors-turned-predators.
A 20-year-old witness in her court testimony said that prime accused Jaswanti Devi’s brother Jaswant and son-in-law Jai Bhagwan were regular visitors to the shelter. They, along with driver Satish, raped her repeatedly in the centre’s hall, she added.
“Jaswanti and her daughter Simi forced me to have group sex and then they used to watch it,” she added. When she got pregnant, Jaswanti arranged for abortion, she claimed.
“Jaswanti used to send me and other girls with men from outside for sexual purpose. I was constantly threatened by all not to raise voice,” she said in her testimony.
Jaswanti, the in-charge of the shelter home, her daughter Sushma alias Simmi, son-in-law Jai Bhagwan, brother Jaswant, cousin Sheela, acquaintance Roshni, driver Satish, employee Ram Prakash Saini and counsellor Veena are being tried for a list of charges that include rape, criminal intimidation, and trafficking.
The sexual exploitation case came to light after a team from the National Council for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) conducted a surprise raid on May 9, 2012, and rescued nearly 120 inmates.
Not only girls, boys were not spared of thrashings and spankings on the slightest of pretext of committing a mistake or refusal to obey orders.
‘Deaf and mute delivered baby’
A deaf and mute witness, who deposed in the court through an interpreter, said that she was repeatedly raped by Jai Bhagwan, leading to a pregnancy. After she gave birth, the baby was allegedly sold off.
There were two other mentally challenged victims. One of them, a male, testified in court to being sexually abused.
Another minor victim told the court that co-accused Satish would insert his fingers in her private parts. Whenever she refused and complained about it, Jaswanti rebuked her and told her to remain silent.
Main accused well-connected
As per the CBI and NCPCR report, Jaswanti was highly networked among the social and political arenas in the district. A lawyer and social worker, she was made a member of the Juvenile Justice Board in Rohtak.
Jaswanti used “abusive, obscene and vulgar language, which at times was even shameful for the children to repeat,” stated the NCPCR report drafted after a search operation.
Not only girls, even boys were not spared of thrashings and spankings on the pretext of committing a mistake or refusal to obey orders, the report added.