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Former Army Man Among Three Held for Sexual Abuse of Disabled Shelter Home Inmates in Bhopal

Bhopal: Police on Saturday arrested three people, including the 71-year-old owner of a shelter home, for allegedly sexually abusing the inmates.

The arrests were made after three FIRs were lodged in two different police stations.

On the complaint of the victims, two FIRs were lodged against shelter home owner MP Awasthi — a retired Army personnel — his brother and the caretaker’s husband.

According to PTI, Awasthi was booked on charges of rape, unnatural sex and criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty among others and provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Nearly 40 inmates of the shelter home visited the Congress office on Friday. Along with the opposition party’s leaders and workers, they submitted a complaint at TT Nagar police station following which an FIR was registered.

The former Army Havaldar was arrested after three men and a woman, complained against him, Khajuri police station incharge Harishankar Pandey said. Some of the victims were minors at the time of the incident.

Commenting on the case, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said stringent punishment would be ensured, while promising to bring the matter into the ambit of capital punishment.

Minister for social justice and empowerment Gopal Bhargav said the necessary action was being initiated. “After the first such case surfaced last month, around 150 of these organisations were checked and further action will be taken,” said the minister.

However, attacking the government, MPCC president Kamal Nath said there must be several similar cases that would be hushed up with the connivance of shelter home owners and government officers.

MP Congress media cell chief Shobha Oza also alleged that the state government had ignored an inmate’s complaint of sexual abuse made to the Hoshangabad Collector in February 2017. Awasthi’s shelter home has a branch in Hoshangabad.

While the complaint was found to be correct and the Hoshangabad facility was closed down, no FIR was registered at the time, Oza had said. Oza further alleged that three inmates had died from the sexual abuse and torture but police said no murder case had been registered yet

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