A probe has been ordered into alleged sexual assault and torture of minor girls at a state-registered NGO while 40 minor children from the home are being shifted to another home, a top official said on Thursday.
The probe comes in the wake of a first information report lodged on complaints by two minor tribal girls from the shelter home alleging that they were being sexually assaulted and tortured for nearly four years.
The home was run by a Mother Teresa Welfare Trust, which has no links with the Sisters of Charity, founded by Saint Teresa, known as Mother Teresa prior to her canonisation.
“We have ordered a high-level enquiry into the incident. The 11-member enquiry team comprises officials from the police, administration, doctors and others. The committee has been asked to submit its report as early as possible,” senior police official, East Singhbhum, Suraj Kumar told PTI.
Mr Kumar said the Director, National Employment Programme (NEP) is heading the probe team.
“We have also asked the District Social Welfare Officer (DSWO) to shift the children from the Centre to another shelter home,” he said.
Senior police official, East Singhbhum, Dr M Tamil Vanan said the FIR has been lodged under Pocso (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act and sections of the Indian Penal Code against the Director of MTWT, Harpal Singh Thapar, his wife Pushpa Rani Tirkey, Warden Gita Singh, her son Aditya Singh and one more person on June 6 on the complaint of two minors that they were being sexually assaulted and psychologically tortured for a long time. Tirkey, wife of Director, MTWT, is also chairperson of the East Singhbhum district child welfare committee (CWC).
No arrests could be made so far in the case, Mr Vanan said.
Both the minor girls, aged about 17 years have levelled serious allegations of abuse and investigations are on as to how many children were abused, the Mr Vanan said, adding that the incident came to light after the Shelter Home In-charge had lodged a missing FIR about both the tribal girls with Telco Police Station on June 5.
Both the girls were traced by lady police officers from the Telco station but were not willing to return to the Shelter home and related harrowing tales of torture and abuse which was brought to the attention of senior police officials, he said.
The girls, aged 16 and 17, have given video-recorded statements in which they have reiterated all the charges made in their statements to the special Pocso court. The girls said they were physically and mentally tortured at the home and were subjected to sexual assault by Thapar, Mr Vanan said.
The girls said they were in the childrens home for the past four years, but no action was taken despite repeated complaints to Tirkey, the CWC chief, the SSP said, adding that the police were looking at the involvement of some other suspects as well.
He said the police is awaiting medical reports of the two girls.
The shelter home located at Shamsher Tower in Kharangajhar had girls in two rooms on the second floor, while the warden lived in another room on the same floor with her daughter and son while boys who had also been given shelter in the home, lived on the ground floor.
Mr Vanan said police were also probing allegations that Thapar and Tirkey used to transfer government funds and private donations into their personal accounts.
The police said that the girls had alleged that money and other gifts and donations were taken away from them and added that efforts were on to arrest all accused by raiding possible hide-outs.
When contacted, DSWO Satya Thakur told PTI: “There are 40 children in the government registered Mother Teresa Welfare Trust including 24 girls and 16 boys. All of them are below 18 years barring a girl and a boy each of 20 years. We will be shifting them to BK Bal Kalyan Singh run shelter home at Patamda by Friday. Mother Teresa Welfare Trust was being run for the last 10 years, she said.
A Delhi Court last year had convicted 19 persons, including main accused Brajesh Thakur, in connection with sexual and physical assault of girls at a shelter home in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district.