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Bhopal: Director of hostel arrested over rape, molestation allegations

Written by PaperDabba
By: Express News Service | Bhopal | Published: August 10, 2018 12:30:21 am

The Opposition Congress alleged that the victim was forced to go out of the city to file a complaint because the local authorities refused to file a complaint in Bhopal. (Representational)

The Bhopal Police on Thursday arrested the director of a private hostel for hearing and speech impaired girls after one of them accused him of rape and two other accused him of molestation over the last few months.

In his late thirties, Ashwin Sharma had rented three duplexes at a locality in the city where at least eight speech and hearing impaired girls and two visually challenged girls, all students of an industrial training institute, lived. A 20-year-old tribal girl on Wednesday filed a first police complaint of rape, wrongful confinement and criminal intimidation.

The police arrested Sharma on Thursday. He was also booked under the SC/ST Act because the victim is tribal. In the complaint lodged with the help of an interpreter, the victim alleged that Sharma always used condoms. She said he used to threaten her not to reveal anything to her parents or he would kill her. She said every time she wanted to return her home, Sharma would tell her that her parents want her to stay in Bhopal.

Two other girls lodged a complaint of molestation against Sharma on Thursday and the case is likely to be transferred to Bhopal. The alleged rape and sexual harassment took place between October 2017 and August 4, after which the girls left the hostel and returned home.

While the first complainant said that the hostel used to get grants from the social justice department of the state government, police officer Manoj Mishra told The Indian Express that the hostels were not affiliated with any government agency. He said it was not clear how many inmates lived in the hostels. When asked about the allegation that one more girl had accused the director of sexual harassment, another senior police officer said that complaint had not been received yet.

Drawing a parallel between the Bhopal incident and the cases in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the Opposition Congress alleged that the victim was forced to go out of the city to file a complaint because the local authorities refused to file a complaint in Bhopal.

Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza alleged that the hostels were aided by the state government’s social justice department and demanded a detailed probe and immediate social audit of shelter homes and hostels.

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