BHOPAL: Another case of sexual and physical abuse involving speech and hearing impaired children at two orphanages in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal and Hoshangabad districts came to light on Friday evening.
The shocking case came to the fore a month after Ashwini Sharma, the 39-year-old head of a private hostel in Bhopal, was arrested for allegedly raping two young speech and impaired students and molesting two others at his hostel.
Over three dozen speech and hearing impaired teenagers and young orphan boys and girls, who have been residing at two orphanages, submitted a complaint with the social justice department about their sustained physical and sexual abuse by MP Awasthi, the 70-year-old head of the orphanage.
Awasthi has been operating the orphanages since 1991 with approval from the social justice department. He has denied the allegations and pleaded innocence. “All these allegations are baseless. I’m 70-year-old. How can I even think of sexually abusing anyone, when I’m ill myself?” he said.
The inmates, who were accompanied by Congress state media in-charge Shobha Oza, reached Bhopal’s TT Nagar police station after they reportedly did not get proper attention from the social justice department staff.
With the help of a sign language specialist-social activist, the inmates narrated their ordeal at the twin orphanages in Hoshangabad and Bairagarh (Bhopal) since 2010.
While two young girls who are now married alleged that they were repeatedly raped by Awasthi at the two orphanages since 2010, at least four teenaged and young boys alleged that they had to repeatedly bear unnatural sexual acts. Other boys have also alleged that they were regularly assaulted physically by Awasthi and aides.
It was further alleged that three-four boys had died due to the unnatural sexual act with them or have been killed for not cooperating with Awasthi.
Oza claimed the matter was reported by the victims in Hoshangabad, but no action was taken against Awasthi. “The orphanage being run in Hoshangabad was shut down only last year following a probe by the district administration.”
Later, DIG-Bhopal Dharmendra Choudhary said the process was underway at the police station to record statements of the alleged victims. The case will be transferred subsequently for investigations, he added.