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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

Monks in Bodh Gaya charged with sexual abuse: Police

The Gaya police on Tuesday said an FIR was registered against the monks, AC Lama, Ratneshwar Chakma and Chhota Bhante, and the probe had begun.

patna Updated: Apr 24, 2019 10:57 IST
Anil Kumar Ojha
Anil Kumar Ojha
Hindustan Times, Gaya
(HT)
         

Three monks associated with the Indo-Thai Buddhist Society (ITBS) in Bodh Gaya have been charged with sexually exploiting a 10-year-old Dalit girl after a petition was filed by a social worker in a local court, which instructed the police on Monday to lodge a first information report (FIR) against the accused and initiate a probe.

The Gaya police on Tuesday said an FIR was registered against the monks, AC Lama, Ratneshwar Chakma and Chhota Bhante, and the probe had begun.

On Tuesday, police recorded the statement of the alleged victim under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) before a judicial magistrate, and started the procedure for her medical examination. The three monks, who have been living in Bodh Gaya for several years, have gone into hiding, police said.

According to the FIR, the three monks regularly visited the victim’s home on the outskirts of Bodh Gaya. Since the victim belonged to a very poor family, the monks allegedly paid the victim’s parents to keep them quiet.

Satyawati Kumari Gupta, a social activist and founder of Vatsali Nirbhaya Shakti, a non-government organisation that works with women and children in Gaya, came in contact with the victim, who narrated her ordeal. Gupta first approached the police, and then moved court.

The officer-in-charge of the SC/ST police station, Angad Paswan, said: “Steps have been initiated to ensure immediate arrest of the accused persons. Once the medical report comes, the inquiry will be expedited. The victim is currently under protection of the police and the NGO.”

Gupta said the victim’s family was incapable of bearing the legal expenditures. “But they need not worry as we are with them and will ensure that the case reaches its logical end soon.”

An Indo-Thai Buddhist Society functionary declined to comment on the case, saying it is under investigation. A monastery representative declined requests for a comment from the incharge.

This is not the first such case of alleged sexual exploitation in Bodh Gaya. Last year, a monastery incharge and Buddhist Dharamguru [religious teacher] was arrested by the police on similar charges. He was accused of sexually harassing children being trained as child Lamas at the monastery.