The Police Thursday arrested the director of a private hostel in Awadhpuri area of Bhopal for raping a 20-year-old speech and hearing impaired tribal girl over last three years. The girl had filed a complaint with Kotwali police station in Dhar district on Wednesday.
Sources said the accused also had allegedly sexually assaulted two other tribal girls from Dhar district for one year. Two of the three survivors were minors when the sexual atrocities started against them.
According to police sources, the accused, identified as Ashwani Sharma, 45, allegedly having high-profile connections with several senior bureaucrats and ministers of the state government, was arrested for rape, wrongful confinement and criminal intimidation after the complaint was transferred to Awadhpuri police station in whose jurisdiction he runs the hostel.
A police officer said the accused Sharma runs two hostels for boys and girls, which are not affiliated with any government agency. A case has been registered under the SC/ST Act besides relevant sections of the IPC and the police have taken the accused to Dhar for identification.
Police sources said another molestation and assault case was registered with Heera Nagar police station in Indore against the accused on Thursday evening, following the complaint of the other two girls. The rape survivor told police through interpreters that the accused also raped her friend, who lived in the same hostel.
A DB Post report says: Four tribal girls, all speech and hearing impaired, hailing from different villages of Dhar district secured admission in an Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Bhopal in July 2016 after completing their high school from Ujjain.
When they reached Bhopal, they were placed in a private hostel. The lodging and boarding for them was reportedly free of cost. Later in September 2017, they were shifted to another hostel in Crystal Ideal City in Awadhpuri, where the horror started.
The incident came to light when two of the four girls recently went to Indore to meet Monika Purohit and Gyanendra Purohit, who run an institution to help speech and hearing impaired people, for career guidance. During discussions, they spoke to Monika about the hostel director's sexual assaults. The girl's brother reached Bhopal on August 5 & took her to Indore on August 6.
The horror story
The rape survivor said the accused first touched her inappropriately on the Diwali day (October 19, 2017). When she objected, he slapped and threatened to kill her if she informed anybody.
From that day, he started molesting her and her friends and used to beat them, when they objected to his advances. He showed them obscene videos and asked them to act like the women in the videos.
On the night of December 24, 2017, he dragged the victim to a separate room in the hostel. When her friends objected, he slapped them. He told them that it was a punishment for making a mistake. He raped her there. Since then, he raped her on many occasions. He didn't allow her to go her village to meet parents for several months. The victim said the director raped her last time on August 4.
The Opposition Congress drew a parallel between the Bhopal incident and the cases in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Congress Spokesperson Shobha Oza alleged that the hostels were aided by the state government’s social justice department. She demanded a detailed probe and immediate social audit of shelter homes and hostels.
“The matter is very serious. I sought a report from commissioner (disabilities) and came to know that no such hostel received a grant from the social justice department. Only one girl was given scholarship. However, I have ordered an in-depth probe, and we would take suitable action.”
Gopal Bhargava, Minister, Social Justice & Welfare Department
“All girls living in the hostel will be counselled with the help of experts. More cases will be registered against the accused if more victims come forward.”
Makrand Deuskar, IG, law and order
“I have spoken to ITI administration. Safety of students living in the hostel will be ensured.”
Sudam Khade, Collector, Bhopal
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