2 More Specially-Abled Girls Claim Sexual Assault in Bhopal Hostel
Protesters during a midnight candlelight vigil against the Kathua and Unnao rape cases.
Protesters during a midnight candlelight vigil against the Kathua and Unnao rape cases.(Photo: PTI)

2 More Specially-Abled Girls Claim Sexual Assault in Bhopal Hostel

Two more deaf and mute tribal girls have filed a complaint against a Bhopal hostel director, who is currently under arrest in a rape case, for molesting them last year, police said on Friday, 10 August.

The victims had filed a fresh case against the accused at the Hira Nagar police station in Ujjain district on Thursday, 9 August, the police said.

Ashwini Sharma, director of a hostel for deaf and mute persons in Bhopal’s Awadhpuri area, was arrested on Wednesday night based on the complaint of an inmate who is a resident of Dhar, Bhopal Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Dharmendra Choudhary confirmed to PTI.

Sharma had been arrested for allegedly raping a 20-year-old deaf and mute tribal girl.

Also Read : Muzaffarpur Rapes: Bihar Min Quits Over Husband’s Alleged Links

The complainant had alleged that the accused raped her repeatedly during her stay at the hostel over the past three years, the DIG said.

She had lodged a complaint with Dhar police and the case was then transferred to Awadhpuri police station, he said.

Sharma was then arrested under sections 376 (rape), 354 (outraging modesty), 344 (wrongful confinement) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC and relevant sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the DIG added.

2 More Differently-Abled Girls Accuse Sharma

In the second case, the Hira Nagar Police Inspector Mahendra Singh Bhadoria told PTI that two Dhar-based sisters lodged a complaint that Sharma had molested them. The case was then transferred to the Awadhpuri police station, he added.

Bhadoria said the incident happened when the sisters stayed at Sharma's house-cum-hostel last year while they were pursuing a course at Bhopal's Industrial Training Institute.

He added that since one of the complainants was a minor, when Sharma allegedly molested her in Bhopal in 2017, provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act have also been invoked against the accused.

MP Government Orders Monthly Inspection

After the incident came to light, the Madhya Pradesh government on Friday, 10 August, ordered monthly inspection of women's hostels in the state.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has issued directions to officials in this regard to prevent recurrence of such incidents at women's hostels and orphanages.

At his residence, Chouhan told reporters,

I have taken a meeting of the officials concerned and directed them to conduct monthly inspections of such (state) aided and unaided facilities where girls are residing. The inspection will be carried out by the collector and superintendent of police in each district on a monthly basis.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Chouhan said similar rules will also be framed for private hostels to ensure safety of inmates.

"Rules will be framed for private hostels too, to ensure girls remain safe there. Such incidents are very painful and already the accused person has been arrested," Chouhan said.

Also Read : 6-Year-Old Raped by Electrician in NDMC School, Accused Held

Another Muzaffarpur, Says Congress

Meanwhile, the Opposition, Congress claimed the hostel was aided by the MP government's Social Justice Department and demanded a thorough investigation into the incident and a social audit of all such hostels.

The party drew parallels with the Muzaffarpur (Bihar) and Deoria (Uttar Pradesh) shelter home rape cases which have rocked the nation after being unearthed in April-May and August respectively.

Inspector General (Intelligence) Makrand Deuskar told reporters that police will talk to all inmates of the hostel.

He said the accused ran two hostels, one for boys and another for girls.

Addressing a press conference, Congress media cell chairperson Shobha Oza told reporters that the party had found that the hostel was funded by the state government.

The incident that occurred in the hostel at Awadhpuri is like the one which has taken place in Muzaffarpur and Deoria. It’s shocking that deaf and mute girls are not safe in hostels.
Shobha Oza

She hit out at the state government claiming that there was a 532 percent increase in cases of rape of children in the past 15 years.

Oza claimed that a social audit of such hostels would unearth more such cases.

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