Flesh trade in shelter homes is not a new phenomenon in India. Earlier too, such incidents have come to light from places in Uttar Pradesh, including Varanasi and Agra. With the Muzaffarpur incident hotting up, a similar case came to light on Monday from a shelter home in eastern UP district of Deoria, which is close to the borders of Bihar.
In Deoria, the rape incidents came to light when a girl who had fled from the shelter home reported the matter to the police. Subsequently, the police raided the shelter home and to their shock, found that of the total registered strength of 42 girls, 18 were missing. The police have arrested the care-taker Girija Tripathi and her husband.
Coincidently, the 10-year-old girl, on whose complaint the police busted the racket, hailed from Bihar's Bettiah region, said Deoria SP Rohan P. Kanay. The female inmates would be sent with some men after 4 pm every day, the girl said in her complaint. They used to return late in the night; in some cases, “madam” (the caretaker) used to accompany them, she added.
Notably, the shelter home was banned in June 2017, but its care-taker had obtained a stay from the court against the ban.
The police have registered a case of human trafficking, flesh trade and child labour against the accused.
Meanwhile, Girija Tripathi claimed innocence. “Nothing wrong was going on in the shelter home. The girl is in police's custody. The police can force her to give a statement that suits their interests. Accreditation of the home has not expired, the matter is pending in the court,” she asserted.
Political fallout of the incidents in Bihar and UP will be detrimental for chief ministers Nitish Kumar and Yogi Adityanath, respectively, as the opposition will rake these issues in a massive way in the upcoming 2019 general elections.
Hectic politicking begins when such cases are unearthed, with the opposition initially making a hue and cry, followed by the government's cut-and-dried response that the “culprits would not be spared”. However, the matter dies a natural death after a while, unless a new incident is reported.
Initially, the Muzaffarpur incident had failed to attract attention from the national media. However, it shot to national prominence when the opposition started protesting in Delhi, with the likes of Rahul Gandhi, Tejashwi Yadav and other leaders joining in.
Similarly, the opposition is already baying for blood of the UP government in the Deoria case. Reacting to the incident, BSP chief Mayawati said: “Sexual exploitation in Deoria shelter home vindicates that there is anarchy in Uttar Pradesh.” Senior SP leader Ram Govind said, “The incident has not only maligned the image of the government in India, but also in foreign countries where it has caused an acute embarrassment.”
“Deoria incident is very shameful and the chief minister should resign,” demanded Congress chief Raj Babbar.
On the other hand, chief minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered strict action against the culprits and sought reports from other shelter homes in the state.