Probe into abuse by Haryana cops in women's shelter
Chandigarh: The Haryana Police Wednesday announced a high-level committee to probe allegations that its own officials were involved in the exploitation of inmates of a government funded protection home for women and children in Rohtak district.
Rohtak is the home town of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The protection home 'Apna Ghar' is run by NGO Bharat Vikas Sangh. The shelter for women and children was getting grants amounting to millions of rupees from the state and central governments.
Haryana's Director General of Police (DGP) Ranjiv S. Dalal told mediapersons that the committee, to be headed by Additional DGP (Law and Order) M.S. Maan, has been constituted to probe allegations that certain Haryana Police officials were involved in the exploitation of the inmates of 'Apna Ghar'.
The protection home has two units, one for women and teenaged girls and the other for children, both boys and girls.
Some female inmates of the protection home had recently alleged that the in-charge of the place, Jaswanti Devi, had forced some of the girls from the home into immoral activities. Devi was honoured earlier this year with a national award by the central government.
They alleged that they used to be brutally assaulted by the in-charge to force them to go with outsiders, including influential people and even police officials. Some girls alleged that they were sexually exploited several times within and outside the protection home.
The home in-charge was a well-networked person and used to invite VIPs to visit the place.
She was arrested last month along with her son-in-law Jai Bhagwan by the Haryana Police after the activities of the protection home came to the notice of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) which raided the home May 9. Over 100 inmates of the home were rescued.
Dalal said a criminal case against 'Apna Ghar' NGO was registered May 10 at Rohtak for molestation, rape, illegal confinement, criminal intimidation and under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Immoral Trafficking Act, Bonded Labour Act and Juvenile Justice Act.
The DGP said that if any Haryana Police official was found guilty in the probe in this matter, he would be given "exemplary punishment".
He said many agencies, including a committee of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, NCPCR, police and Women and Child Welfare department were investigating the issue ever since the activities came out in the open.
Expressing concern over the alleged exploitation of the children, Dalal said cases of such nature, being very sensitive, should be investigated and tried in a time-bound manner. He said he was shocked to learn that the inmates were even allegedly exploited by police officials.
"The rights of children are sacred to us and we value their rights and they should be protected. The police have very clear rules. Therefore, the guilty would be punished under the law," he added.
Following the NCPCR raid, the authorities found that some inmates were missing from the home. The NGO in-charge had reportedly given these children away to childless couples from other states.