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Jashpur: A 17-year-old girl staying at a government-funded residential training centre for differently abled children was raped and five other inmates were molested allegedly by the caretaker and watchman of the facility in Chhattisgarh’s Jashpur district, police said on Friday.
The deaf and mute minor girls belonging to the Adivasi community were chased naked on the corridor and beaten up mercilessly, according to a news report in The Times of India.
The district police have arrested the caretaker Rajesh Ram and watchman Narendra Bhagat and booked them under several sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Indian Penal Code for rape and molestation.
The girls, all between 13 and 16 years, are at present being treated for the injuries and are undergoing counselling.
The incident took place on September 22 in the residential training centre for ‘people with disabilities’.
According to media reports, a woman caretaker had tried to stop the men from assaulting the girls at the shelter home but she was locked in a room. The police have identified her as a key witness to the incident.
According to the woman witness, the men had bolted her room from outside when she had tried to raise an alarm. She claimed to have heard footsteps, and slaps and kicks being rained on the children. The woman has also accused the shelter home superintendent Sanjay Ram who of trying to cover the incident up. After the woman spoke to a local journalist, the police were alerted and an FIR was registered over 48 hours after the incident.
Additional SP Pratibha Pande, who is investigating the incident, told reporters that the children are in a state of shock and it was difficult for the police to record their statements. The children expressed their trauma in sign language, Pande told the press.
The incident comes as a grim reminder of the sexual assault on at least 15 minor inmates of a residential school for tribal girls in Jhaliyamari village of Kanker district in 2013.
The incident had sparked outrage, prompting the then BJP government to order an inspection of all residential schools and hostels in the state.
As many as eight people, including two officials of the education department and as many teachers, were arrested in the Jhaliyamari case.
(With PTI inputs)
Note: This report has been updated with additional details since publication.