Opposition parties expressed serious concern in Lok Sabha over the alleged sexual exploitation of girls at shelter home in Uttar Pradesh and demanded stern action against the culprits.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh termed the incident shameful and declared that no culprit would escape action. Singh also told the Lok Sabha that two senior officials of the state government were probing the matter.
Opposition members, including those from the SP and the RJD, raised the issue of concern in the Lok Sabha.
“No culprit will escape action”, Singh said, adding that the state government has taken quick action in the case. He described such incidents as unfortunate, sad and shameful.
Additional Chief Secretary and a Director General level officer are probing the case, Singh said. The Home Minister also said that he would ask the ministries concerned to send out advisories to states to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.
Soon after the Home Minister’s response, members of the SP, RJD, Congress and TMC staged a walk out from the House. Amid the protests and heated exchanges between the Treasury and the Opposition benches, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said everyone is concerned about these incidents which are not good. She urged everyone not to play politics with it.
She suggested that all members should also keep a tab in their constituencies so that such incidents do not happen.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi also admitted laxity by Deoria administration in shutting down the shelter home from where 24 girls were rescued, saying the district officials were aware about the closure order but allowed the facility to operate for more than a year.
The admission of laxity by the state women and child welfare minister came a day after Union minister Maneka Gandhi said she feared that there could be more cases of sexual abuse of minor girls at shelter homes.
“In June last year, an order was issued for the closure of the shelter home and district magistrate was informed but it was not followed. At least 15 notices were given to the Deoria district magistrate for closure of the shelter home and shift inmates elsewhere. Five letter were sent from Directorate level… Certainly, there was laxity at local level,” Joshi told reporters.
“When order was issued for its closure (last year) there were 28 inmates there, now it had 23 including 20 girls and three boys. The records of NGO says they had 42 inmates. The attempts are on to trace remaining ones. It will be done in next 24 to 48 hours,” she added.
The minister also appeared to shift partial blame on the previous BSP government. Joshi said the NGO which ran the shelter home – Ma Vindhyavasini Women Training Evam Samaj Seva Sansthan – was given government work in 2010, when the BSP was in power.
“It was made girl, child centre, child home, adoption centre and given more work between 2010-2014 during the previous SP and BSP governments.”
The 24 girls from the Deoria shelter home were rescued on Sunday amid allegations that they were sexually exploited. Another such case has came to light from Muzaffarpur in Bihar.
(With PTI inputs)