Jammu’s Damnis

Ganging and high-end crimes witnessing an upswing notwithstanding, this summer exhibited a much disturbing trend in J&K’s winter capital, the temple city of Jammu, where even mentally challenged could not escape the organized white collar criminals, reports Tasavur Mushtaq.

Women-Rape-ArtSeldom does a crime result in a change of laws. The day rapist killers of 23-year-old Damni, the victim of the worst gang-rape in Delhi, were given capital punishment by the court, Jammu reported a disturbing case.

 Aasha (name changed) is not able to recognize people. The only thing she remembers is her name that she could not pronounce properly. Aasha is one of the five mentally challenged girls allegedly sexually exploited for the last year by those manning the premises.

In her mid-twenties, the victim, as per the initial investigation conducted by the police, has been found to be “used for sexual intercourse”.

The shiver ran down the spine when in September 2013, the district administration in Jammu found most of the inmates of the Rotary Inner Wheel Home for mentally retarded children at Channi Rama frightened and fearful.

In the home which was aimed to rehabilitate the mentally not well, all the grown-up girls were sexually abused by the staff members as well as some outsiders.

Mentally not sound, the girls “communicated through verbal and body language and affirmed that they were being subjected to sexual abuse by some members of the staff and also by persons from outside the home”, adding “minor bruises and marks were also observed on the bodies of some of the inmates”.

According to order vide order No.DMJ/PS/2013-14/78-83 dated September 4, 2013, the administration took over the management and enquiry committee was established to probe the matter. The revelations were shocking. At the outset it was pointed out five grown up girls were sexually abused and no record of people visiting the children in the home was ever maintained by the staff.

“There is no systematic record of children that have been admitted every year since the inception of the home in the year 1979″, the report said, adding “there is also no proper discharge/relieving report of the children who have left the home”, read the enquiry report.

The report further read that “the board of doctors constituted to establish the credibility of the specific and serious allegations regarding sexual abuse of the girls of the home has given an opinion that five grown-up girls are habitual to intercourse.”

“Out of 17 girls, five were found to be allegedly raped regularly,” read the report. According to sources, all 14 girls were subjected to sexual abuse but only five girls were medically examined. Police initially managed a medical examination of five and later it was court intervention that got the other nine medically examined. The case currently being heard by a division bench was informed by the lawyers that the victims were even transported to undisclosed places in neighbouring Punjab.

The girl having border line intelligence confirmed to the enquiry team that she was being subjected to regular instances of sexual abuse not only by staff but also by persons from outside the home, report said, adding “it was also found that some girls were taken out by Director S C Sharma (Co-opted Member) accompanied by some members of the staff. However, the purpose of the visit was ambiguous and shrouded with mystery.

 The Home has already been taken over by the government and an ad-hoc committee is currently running it. It includes some of the members against whom no allegation has been found, so far.

Police registered rape case under 376 of RPC, but faced difficult situation as most of the victims were not in a position to make any kind of statement. The police have sought assistance of a psychiatrist from government medical college Jammu.

Not only culprits, director and chowkidar of the home, police also arrested Principal Girdari Lal Koul and Secretary Rajinder Kapoor for allegedly hiding facts and misleading investigation of police. The two were given to judicial remand for 15 days.

The more shocking revelation during the investigation was when a lady doctor, Dr Raj Sharma owner of Astha nursing home was accused of illegal abortions of the sexually abused mentally retarded girls in her nursing home. The involvement of lady doctor surfaced on the disclosure of the arrested employees of the home. Police also arrested Dr Raman Sharma who is co owner of nursing home and husband of Dr Raj Sharma.

 Not only the lady doctor, but the case took new turn when a lady police officer namely SI Neelam Saini posted as I/C PP Residency Road took the accused lady doctor with her from the custody of Police Station Women Cell Jammu and got her admitted in GMC hospital on the ground of her ill health.

The act of lady SI also left the senior police officers astounded as to what prompted her to indulge in such dare delivery at the cost of her career as she has been suspended and inquiry ordered against her.

In the latest concluded autumn session of Jammu and Kashmir State Legislative Assembly, the issue of sexual abuse of mentally retarded girls came to discussion. The government admitted that some of the girl inmates of the Home were subjected to sexual abuse by members of the staff and also from persons outside the Home. “Overall environment of the Home in its present form is not conducive and supportive for healthy existence of these mentally unsound children,” the government stated in the house and added that case FIR No.183/2013 U/S 376(c), 109/PRC was registered at P/S Bahu Fort.

 The government stated that the other accused namely P N Dubey and Mrs Ravi Dubey of the Rotary Inner Wheel Home who are also involved in the case are yet to be arrested.

The government claims that further investigations in the case are going on and all-out efforts are being made by the SIT to bring out the truth in the case and nab all culprits. All eyes are on the action taken by the government to provide justice as done in the case of Delhi’s Damini.

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