February 01, 2019:
On Thursday, the Ratlam District Child Welfare Committee Chairperson, her husband two Govt. employees were arrested for allegedly sexually abusing & torturing minor girls in a Govt-run shelter.
Sources said some outsiders also raped the minors, and names of some political leaders and social workers have come up during the investigation. Each of them is being investigated.
The horror came to light after five girls broke out of the shelter through a first-floor ventilator on Jan 24. A police officer in Mandsaur, 50 km away, found them wandering and spoke to them. The girls narrated a chilling story of sexual abuse, which led to an investigation.
Addressing media on Thursday, District Collector Ruchika Chouhan said, “A magisterial probe revealed that child welfare committee chairperson and former director of the shelter, Dr Rachna Bhartiya, her husband Raju, current director Sandesh Jain and secretary Dilip Baraiya were involved in sexually harassing and torturing the girls.”
During counselling, the girls had given details of harassment and sexual abuse by the authorities after which the Jaora SDM was handed the investigation. The probe found that Rachna used to thrash the children and her husband and the others raped them, say officials. The girls were kept hungry and given bare min. food, but forced to do all the chores — mopping the floors, washing utensils and cleaning toilets, says the report.
After the report was submitted to the collector, all four accused were booked for rape and harassment under POCSO Act and Juvenile Justice Act, and arrested.
In order to ensure impartial probe, all 25 girls of the shelter were shifted temporarily. They will now be sent to Ujjain, say the authorities.
The collector said she has recommended suspension of Ratlam women and child development officer Ravindra Mishra for failing to conduct timely inspections of the institute and identify these problems.
Other Govt-run hostels and institutes will be under the scanner now, Ruchika Chouhan said. Officials said that the government had sanctioned ₹16 lakh for the institute in 2016-17. Apart from this, the shelter received lakhs of rupees in donation.