Child sexual abuse. Image used for representational purposes only.
Child sexual abuse. Image used for representational purposes only. File photo | EPS

'Branded with hot tongs, hung upside down': Children allege abuse at Indore orphanage

Ordeal of Innocence: Indore orphanage sealed amidst allegations of child abuse

INDORE: At least 20 minor girls at an Indore "orphanage" narrated tales of abuse and alleged horrifying ways of punishment, including branding with hot tongs, hanging them upside down and forced to inhale smoke from burning red chillies, prompting the local administration to seal the facility and the police to file an FIR against five women.

As the shocking tales, recounted by the inmates before a Child Welfare Committee, surfaced an FIR was registered against five women associated with the facility for allegedly ill-treating children in the name of punishment, a police official said on Friday.

The facility, described by officials as an "orphanage", was sealed by the local administration. However, the NGO running the children's facility said it was a hostel and not an orphanage, and filed a habeas corpus petition in the Madhya Pradesh High Court challenging the administration's action.

It also denied all allegations mentioned in the FIR filed on the basis of a complaint by the local CWC.

The administration sealed the facility, "Vatsalyapuram", located in the Vijayanagar area on January 12 for illegal operation and shifted the inmates, girls aged between four and 14 years, to the state-run Child Protection Home and another institution, the official said. The girl inmates told the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) that they were tortured in the name of punishment in the premises, he said.

In the FIR lodged on the night of January 17, it was mentioned a four-year-old girl was beaten up for wearing dirty clothes, locked in the bathroom for several hours and not given food for two days. It was also alleged in the FIR that children were hung upside down and forced to inhale smoke from red chillies kept on a hot pan below.

Two children were branded with hot tongs at the hands of a minor girl and one girl was taken to a furnace after being stripped in front of other kids and warned of being burnt, the official said, citing the document.

"Five women associated with the orphanage have been named in the FIR registered under relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act," Vijay Nagar police station sub-inspector Kirti Tomar said. Investigation into these allegations was still at an early stage, she said.

"The children who were rescued from the orphanage are natives of Rajasthan and Gujarat," Indore-based Child Welfare Committee (CWC) chairperson Pallavi Porwal said.

"We have written to the Child Welfare Committees of these states asking them to ascertain the socio-economic background of these children and submit a report to us so that they can be rehabilitated," said Porwal.

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