New Delhi: Deoria shelter home case continues to get murkier with revelations now surfacing through witness statements that the victims were drugged before being sent to ‘powerful guests’. The statements in question, according to a Times of India report, were recorded by Uttar Pradesh Police women’s cell on August 6 and Deoria police the next day. They were then incorporated into the chargesheet submitted before the Allahabad high court.
On August 6, Deoria police rescued 24 women from the shelter home run by one Girija Tripathi after a ten-year-old inmate alleged sexual exploitation, escaping from the premises. The young girl had told the police: “Badi Ma’am le jaati thi. Kabhi safed, lal, kaali gaadi aati thi… Char baje jaati thi… subah aati thi… Didi subah kuch nahi kehti thi… uski aankh sooj aati thi (Senior Ma’am used to take them. Sometime a white car, a red or a black car would come. They would leave at 4 pm and return in the morning. Didi wouldn’t speak in the morning, her eyes would be swollen).”
One of the statements by a 12-year-old inmate alleges that Tripathi also used to drug girls before they were sexually exploited in exchange for money. These allegations, however, are not part of the statement recorded by Deoria police under 161 CrPC or the one recorded under 164 CrPC before a magistrate. As per the statement, the girls were forced to take drugs before being sent to men so that they don’t feel any pain.
As per a statement by a 13-year-old: “Badi madam dhamkati thi, kehti thi, maar dalenge. Tumko police ke saamne kuch nahi batana aur yadi police wale aayenge toh kuch utha kar maar dena aur bade log aayeng toh unke saath mauj masti karna (Madam used to threaten us with action. She would tell us not to share anything with police and fight the cops if they came looking. She would ask us to have fun with people in powerful positions).”
Apart from sexual exploitation, girls have alleged poor quality of food and corporal punishment at the shelter home. The shelter home was de-recognised in June 2017 following a CBI probe that found financial irregularities at the home.
At a time when revelations of abuses at the shelter home were surfacing, the state chief minister in September had dismissed the issue claiming “nothing happened to the girls.” Adityanath was quoted as saying in an interview that multiple investigations had also failed to find anything untoward going on at the shelter home and the high court had taken suo moto cognisance of the matter but “till now nothing has come out.”