May 9, 2011

Mumbai Mirror

HC pulls up cops for Kavdas job

Shahpur police slammed for not recording statements of those complaining of sexual abuse and starvation and not turning them into key witnesses

The Shahpur police was slammed for its shoddy job on the Kavdas orphanage investigation by the apex committee and the Thane Child Welfare Committee (CWC).

On Thursday, the parties probing the orphanage horror reiterated Mumbai Mirror's report which picked ten glaring oversights on the part of the police team investigating the case.

The apex committee members as well as Thane CWC counsel told the court that the police has not looked beyond the incident of rape of one the minors and missed out on the crucial charges of starvation, attempt to murder and even murder of one of the inmates, thereby trivialising the plight of the kids there.

"Police has done a poor investigation. Although the kids in their interviews alleged starvation, no education, and repeated assault, no heed was paid to these charges.

In fact the kids said that one of the inmates, Divya, was beaten to death by Pundalik Gole. Most importantly the male inmates also alleged sexual assault.

Police did not even care to record their statements," said Asha Bajpai, chairman of High Court appointed apex committee and amicus curiae.

Dr Harish Shetty, another member of the apex committee told the HC that the case of rape against Gole too was weak as the police did not record the statements of the girls in front of a magistrate.

"Moreover, all the trustees and employees should have been booked for starvation and beatings. There is also evidence of financial mismanagement at the orphanage. The police has simply turned a blind eye to this fact restricting their investigation to rape of one of the inmates," he said.

Niteen Pradhan, counsel for Thane CWC too pointed out that in their statements the five female inmates of Kavdas home have categorically stated that apart from Gole another person by the name of Chavan too sexually abused them.

"The employees at the home have admitted that there used to be six people on duty at night. All six should be charged because the sexual abuse happened at night. The least the police could have done is turn them into prime witnesses. Also severe sections of Juvenile Justice Act should have been applied so that the accused does not get away scot free," Pradhan told the court.

All the parties demanded further investigation from a special police team so that a stronger case can be built against the accused. The HC accepted that there was a need for further investigation and that it would decide on the same in the next hearing scheduled for May 4.
HC lauds Mirror team

The apex committee members and CWC Thane Counsel present in HC lauded Mumbai Mirror report dated April 27 picking 10 loopholes in the police investigation. When they pointed to the court that the Mirror reporters who had done the story were present in court, HC sought them out and appreciated their efforts.

Division Bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice DY Chandrachud asked if the two reporters were lawyers, to which both replied in negative. "Good job," is what the bench had to say.

Mumbai Mirror

Not five but 10 girls abused in Panvel

The police team investigating the plight of 19 girls at Kalyani Mahila and Balak Seva Sanstha told the High Court that other than evidence of rape of five inmates, they have found proof of several other offences committed by the trustees of the home.

“Medical examination of all the girls has revealed that not five but 10 girls were sexually abused. We have decided to book the accused on charges of unnatural with the minor girls,” said ACP Rashmi Karandikar, who is heading the investigation team.

Police sources have revealed that some of the girls were forced to have anal and oral sex with random men who visited the home.

Highlighting the deplorable state of the girls here, member of the Mumbai-Konkan Divisional Committee Naina Athale said that anyone who wanted to abuse an inmate could simply walk into the home and use a packet of chana as a bait to take a girl ‘upstairs’ where the assault would take place.

Karandikar added that one of the inmates also had strangulation marks on her neck and the trustees will be booked for attempt to murder as well. “Besides, during my investigation I have found that there were severe financial irregularities in the functioning of the home.

Licence was granted to the ashram on the basis of fake documents. Most importantly, several inmates in their statements said that one of the inmates Sita was beaten to death by the trustees.

I have sent my report urging state to file fresh case of murder, cheating and forgery against the trustees of Panvel home. Since my scope of inquiry is restricted only to sexual abuse I cannot register these cases on my own,” she said.

This prompted the apex committee to request the court to allow Karandikar to go beyond charges of sexual assault. The court asked additional government pleader Jyoti Pawar to find out from the state if ACP Karandikar’s scope of investigation can be expanded.

Times of India

No child was sexually abused,claims govt

The government had conducted claimed medical tests of more than 1,000 children in all the 27 homes in Maharashtra in less than three weeks and found no trace of sexual abuse.But a close look shows the methods were haphazard,faulty and unscientific.This was revealed at the Bombay HC on Thursday during a hearing on the state of shelter homes.

The tests have not been done in a uniform manner.At a home in Solapur,the medical exam was conducted by a general practitioner.In Satara,a medical camp was held for 67 children;for them,the column for sexual abuse in the report was left blank, said psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty,a member of the HCappointed panel to look into shelter homes state.TISS professor Asha Bajpai,who heads the panel,said abuse could not be reported merely by looking at a child.

Times of India

Court panel shocked by no abuse report

State Papers Show It Was Callous In Conducting Med Tests On Kids At Shelter Homes

Mumbai: Can a person detect sexual abuse through an examination of eyes,nose,throat,heart,liver and tonsils Or can one say a girl was sexually assaulted in 2011,through a medical examination conducted in 2010.The state government certainly seems to think that it can be done.Moreover,it also believes that a childs ability to calculate has bearing on whether or not she was abused.

After experts stumbled upon incidents of sexual abuse in two shelter homes for mentally challenged children in Maharashtra,the chief justice of the Bombay high court directed the governments department of women and child development to conduct medical tests on all 1,000-odd children living in the 27 shelter homes a across the state.On April 1,less than three weeks of the order being passed,the government apparently finished all the tests and claimed that it had found no trace of sexual abuse at any of the homes.
During the hearing on Thursday,even Chief Justice Mohit Shah seemed shocked with the findings.You should not conduct these examinations only because you want to comply with the court orders,but because it is your duty to do so, he told the department.

TOI trawled through the medical reports,only to find an absurd list of documents submitted by the government.Many of the reports included observations on childrens IQ and behaviour,with no mention of any check on sexual abuse.The government even submitted medical reports conducted in 2010,a year before the court order.

For instance,at the home for mentally deficient children in Satara,Asha Bhavan,the children were taken to a medical camp for their tests of sexual abuse.The report stated that there was no abuse and mentioned stable or aggressive against a childs name.

The reports of the Shankarlal Mundada Home in Jalna,mention details of the childrens IQ levels but do not have anything to do with sexual abuse.Some reports focused solely on a childs behaviour.The one prepared for children at Prem Daan in Navi Mumbai had observations like snatching things and hitting others and habit of stealing,but the persons concerned never seemed to have checked if those children were ever assaulted or molested or raped.There was clearly no examination of sexual abuse.

At the Ekvir Home in Nagpur,the medical reports dealt solely with the tests of chest,eyes,nose,tonsils,teeth,heart and glands.From that,the officials could not possible detect sexual abuse.

The reports for the Sojar Home and the Shri Hanuman Shikshan Prasarak Mandal,both in Solapur,included a column for injuries or marks of violence,but the space was left blank.Similarly,the column of urogenital examination in the reports of Shri Hanuman Shikhsan Prasarak Mandal was mostly left blank or filled with an illegible scrawl.In some cases,the column bore cryptic comments like higher functions could not be tested.

Shocked by the claim that none of the children in the shelter homes was sexually violated,Asha Bajpai,chairperson of the court-appointed panel investigating the condition of childrens homes,slammed the government for the method of checks adopted by it.You cannot detect sexual abuse of a mentally challenged child at a medical camp.You need to build a rapport with these children and meet them a number of times before they open up to you, she said.Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty,who is also on the panel,called the state department callous and being criminally negligent in executing health check-ups.The hurry reflects a lack of sensitivity and fear of exposing the corrupt collusion between the department of women and child development and the home department officials, he said.

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