Bhuj Dalit Teen Rape: Ashram that hushed incident had many lapses earlier

The Jeevan Prabhat Ashram, a child care-cum-orphanage in Gandhidham that hid the rape of a 16-year-old Dalit for almost a month, before cops got a wind of it, had been earlier pulled up by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for procedural lapses.

Interestingly, the organisation had been earlier in the news after one Vinod Khubchandani wrote to the commission about some 33 children going missing from the Ashram. Jayshreeben Makwana, chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) Kutch when contacted about the rape incident and the earlier lapses by the Ashram said she will not talk about the matter on phone. “Come and meet me in person. I will not talk about it on phone,” said Makwana.

Vachonidhi Acharya, president of the trust that runs the ashram did not respond to calls or messages from DNA.

After the matter came to the NHRC notice, the cops traced the missing children to their home, the petitioner had filed a counter-reply raising queries about the cop’s investigations which forced the NHRC to summon both the collector and the petitioner to Gandhinagar in April 2018.

In that hearing in Gandhinagar, the NHRC had expressed its annoyance with the district collector for not taken action against the trust that handles the ashram for procedural lapses. It had then asked the district collector of Kutch to issue a notice to the trustees under the Juvenile Justice Act. “The children had gone missing and both Child Welfare Committees remained ignorant until the matter was taken up with the NHRC,” said Khubchandani. He had in his petition stated that the orphanage records mentioned 112 minor children but in reality, it had just 77. Remya Mohan, Kutch collector who also heads the District Child Protection Unit said a notice was issued as per the Juvenile Justice Act and a report was also sent. “The Child Welfare Committee has submitted its report based on the enquiry and has asked the police to include sections of JJ Act in the earlier case,” said Mohan.

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