Unbearable harassment lead women inmates to escape from shelter home
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The women of Navjivan Mahila Sudhar Griha broke the bathroom window grill, scaled the compound wall and escaped yesterday, police said.
Altogether nine women had tried to escape, of which eight succeeded in running away. The ninth fell down and injured herself, they said.
Govandi police have registered a case and are on a look out for the inmates who escaped. Wireless messages have been sent to all police stations in the city and nearby cities and districts to trace them.
On November 30, the High Court had asked police to register FIR against the top staff of the shelter home after a court-appointed three-member committee had indicted them of harassing the inmates.
The court had also ordered police to shift some of the women inmates to other Ashram immediately following which the FIR was registered on December 1.
The court had appointed the committee to probe the allegations of harassment after 36 inmates had escaped earlier on October 27, and 13 of them were caught.
The members of the committee Dr Haresh Shetty, Dr Asha Bajpai of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Deputy Police Commissioner Rashmi Karandikar had been asked by the high court to look into allegations of sexual assault on inmates.
The court had even expressed shock over the apathy of the government towards the conditions prevailing in the home.
Most of the women are victims of human trafficking who have been rescued by the police and put up in the shelter home. Some of the women had even got permission to go home but were still at the shelter home in view of shortage of escort police personnel, sources said.
'Task force' to trace escaped women
Maharashtra government has decided to set up a 'task force' comprising two officials each from police and women and child welfare departments to trace the women who escaped from a state-run shelter home.
State Women and Child Welfare Minister Varsha Gaikwad said the task force will be entrusted with the job of tracing the women and ensuring that they are sent back to their homes by completing the legal formalities.
Gaikwad said she has convened a meeting with Home department on Friday and will send her department officials to the Bangladeshi authorities in Delhi to discuss the process of transferring the women back to their country.
They will discuss the process of "transfer permit" for the women so that return to their country is expedited.
Following the report of the High Court committee which probed allegations of harassment of the inmates by the suburban Mankhurd-based Navjivan shelter home authorities, FIRs were registered against ten officials out of which two
and one other person have been suspended.
The High Court had appointed the committee to probe the allegations of harassment after 36 inmates had escaped earlier on October 27 and thirteen of them were caught.
Committee members Dr Haresh Shetty, Dr Asha Bajpai of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Deputy Police Commissioner Rashmi Karandikar had been asked by the High Court to look into the allegations of sexual assault on inmates.
Among those suspended were shelter home superintendent Ashwini Dighe, district women and child welfare development officer Anana Khandagale and ex-superintendent of the shelter home Neeru Sharma.
The FIRs were earlier filed against deputy commissioner of women and child welfare Ravi Patil, divisional deputy commissioner Bharat Pokharkar, acting superintendent of the shelter home Shobha Shelar, caretakers and other staff.
When asked about the women who escaped yesterday, Gaikwad said an FIR has been lodged in that connection.
At present, the shelter home's functioning is being headed by former magistrate Swati Chavan.
Gaikwad said her ministry has sought funds of Rs 65 lakh so that the PWD department can construct a wall, an iron mesh and an additional room in the shelter home.
Earlier, 114 women were sent back to Bangladesh.
Presently, there are 108 women in the shelter home out of whom 58 are from Bangladesh. There are 50 women from different states including four from Maharashtra. The Bangladeshi women will be released on December 15 and efforts are on in that direction.