A Muzaffarpur raises its head in Deoria, UP: Girls in shelter home pushed into flesh trade

The miraculous escape of a 10-year-old girl from a shelter home late on Sunday, August 5, unearthed a flesh trade racket being operated from a women protection home in Deoria in eastern Uttar Pradesh

IANS Photo
IANS Photo

Biswajeet Banerjee

A miraculous escape of a 10-year-old girl from a shelter home in Deoria late on Sunday, August 5, unearthed a flesh trade racket being operated from the ‘Maa Vindhyavasini Mahila Avum Balika Sangrakshan Grih’ women protection home in Deoria in eastern Uttar Pradesh, where 42 inmates were enrolled. Police have rescued 24 girls and search is on for 18 others, who are reported missing.

Deoria district police chief Rohan P Kanay said that three persons, including the superintendent, caretaker and her husband, were arrested in a late night raid on the protection home.

The incident has come close on the heels of discovery of mass rapes of minors in a shelter home for girls in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. A CBI probe has been ordered by the Bihar Government in this case.

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi, speaking on Deoria and Muzaffarpur shelter home cases, said “It’s not only frightening, it makes me sad. I know there will be many more because for years and years, we have paid no attention, apart from giving them money. I propose that MPs go to institutions in their constituencies and give me reports. I'll take immediate action. A long term solution is to make large homes for 1,000 women, 1,000 children, with all-women staff rather than small centres. I'll sanction money.”

The lid from the racket in Deoria was blown off after a girl, aged around 10, escaped from the Protection Home and reached a police station. She told police about the activities inside the protection home, including how people used to come to the protection home in big cars at around 4 pm, and girls used to accompany them. Sometimes, the supervisor used to accompany these girls. She told police that the girls used to return late at night.

Kanay said that many dubious activities were taking place in the said protection home. “In view of complaints the licence of the protection home was cancelled in June, 2017. Despite that the Superintendent was running it illegally,” he said, and added that initial investigations has shown that girls between the group of 15 and 18 years were pushed into prostitution.

But, Girja Tripathi, who was running the protection home, contested the police version saying: “It was in the knowledge of the local administration that we are not getting any financial help. Despite that police forced us to run the centre. They were sending girls and children to the centre."

Deoria DM, DPO transferred

After the Muzaffarpur incident came to light, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had issued orders on August 3 asking all district magistrates to carry out a thorough inspection of Child and Women Protection Homes across the state. He had asked district officials to ensure security to the women and children staying in these homes. Reports suggest that DMs had not taken the directives of the CM seriously.

The state government on Monday, August 6 transferred the district magistrate of Deoria, an official said. Deoria District Probation Officer (DPO) Abhishek Pandey has also been suspended and action has also been initiated against former DPOs Neeraj Kumar and Anoop Singh.

State Women and Child Welfare Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi told the media on Monday that a probe has been ordered. She said that after a CBI inspection last year, it was discovered that the Deoria shelter home was running illegally. An order was issued to shift the inmates and shut it immediately. The minister said that on August 1, an FIR was lodged to shut it down after reports of the racket surfaced.

CM Yogi Adityanath has set up a committee comprising Additional Director General (women helpline) Anju Gupta and additional chief secretary (women's welfare) Renuka Kumar to immediately visit Deoria and present before the government its interim report by Tuesday, August 7.

The Chief Minister has also directed all district magistrates to ensure inspection of children and women shelter homes in their districts and present a report within 12 hours, a government spokesman told the Indo-Asian News Service.

With IANS inputs

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