Villupuram ashram case: CB-CID begins probe, registers 4 cases: Officer
A team led by superintendent of police, Arun Balagopalan inspected the institute. Four cases have been registered based on the complaints, Balagopalan said. “The CB-CID will file a charge sheet soon,” he added
Chennai: The CB-CID has begun its probe into the illegal Anbu Jothi Ashram in Villupuram where 142 residents who were rescued have complained of rape, torture and trafficking, officials involved in the probe said.
The police station in Kedar village, which had arrested eight people including the couple who ran the institute, has handed over documents and cases filed to the agency. The case was handed over to the CB-CID on February 18 since the case has to be investigated in various states.
A team led by superintendent of police, Arun Balagopalan inspected the institute. Four cases have been registered based on the complaints, Balagopalan said. “The CB-CID will file a charge sheet soon,” he added.
He did not wish to speak on the human trafficking angle. “Chains that were used to tie up the inmates, wooden sticks where were used to beat them have also been gathered by the officers from the home,” said a district official not wishing to be named.
The Madras high court on Monday directed the police to file the action taken report in a week’s time as the case will be heard on February 27. A habeas corpus petition regarding the disappearance of a 70-year-old man Zafir Ullah from the ashram unravelled a web of crimes inside this institute. The National Commission for Women is also inquiring into the serious complaints here.
On January 1, a US resident Salim Khan asked his close friend – the petitioner – to admit his uncle Ullah in a shelter home since he had no close relatives. The petitioner contacted a person named Mustaq, who made arrangements to lodge Zafir Ullah in the ashram 4 December 2021.
Later the petitioner did not find Ullah in the ashram who informed him that he had been shifted to another shelter home in Bengaluru on 6 December 2021. The petitioner went to Bengaluru to trace Ullah, but couldn’t find him. A ‘man missing’ complaint was registered in Villupuram’s Kedar police station on 26 December 2021 and local police informed the court in January that an investigation is in progress. Besides Ullah, 15 others had also gone missing after being shifted to Bengaluru. On these allegations, the present habeas corpus petition was filed.
On the orders of the court a team of district authorities went to the ashram on February 10, they found the poor condition in which 142 inmates were treated and they complained of rape, sexual assault and physical assault.
On February 11, the officials rescued all the 142 residents and sent them to the Mundiyampakkam government hospital. On February 13, the Tamil Nadu State Mental Health Authority in a statement said that their review board inspected the Ashram on 12 December 2022 and learnt that it is being run without any registration from their body. The Ashram was found to violate section 65 of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017. On February 14, the Ashram was sealed. On February 15, about 68 out of the 142 residents who have no mental illness were sent to other government-run homes and some are being reconnected with their families. On February 16, a second branch of this institute was found from where another 25 were rescued where the inmates had complained of being beaten heavily.