UP Women and Child Welfare Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi today said that the 18 girls missing from the Deoria shelter home would be found in 48 hours. Their whereabouts are still unknown to police officials but the UP minister sounded hope that they would be located soon. The Deoria shelter home was raided by UP police on Sunday following allegation of sexual exploitation by inmates.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi said that a high-level team under ADG Anju Singh had been sent to Deoria. The statements of the children have been recorded and documents examined. “Three boys and 21 girls were found at the shelter home. There were 42 children in the official record of the NGO that ran the shelter home,” she said.
Eighteen girls, according to the official list maintained by the Deoria shelter home, have been missing. Rita Bahuguna Joshi said, “The officials are trying to locate the missing children. We will have their details in 48 hours.”
“The team that went there yesterday spoke to everyone. They don’t have records. Barring 23, whereabouts of other girls are not known,” Rita Bahuguna Joshi said.
“Probe is also being conducted against DPO and district probation officer, DCP and children officer. Anyone found guilty will not be spared.
This is a firm decision of our government,” she said.
The UP women and child development minister admitted that the girls staying at Ma Vindhyavasini Shelter Home were sexually exploited. Though medical report is yet to come but it seems that the girls faced sexual exploitation, Rita Bahuguna Joshi said. “If the girls have alleged so, we are proceeding in the matter thinking that it must have happened,” she said.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi also hit out at the Opposition for blaming the BJP government of Uttar Pradesh for Deoria shelter home sexual exploitation. “I am witnessing since yesterday that everything is being politicized and those commenting on it are the ones who created such institutions,” Rita Bahuguna Joshi said.
“Political colour is being given to the matter. These institutions were opened during their time. Our efforts are to ensure justice to the children,” Rita Bahuguna Joshi said. The shelter home for girls was given recognition in 2010. The previous government gave a lot of facilities to the shelter home, she said.
Rita Bahuguna Joshi also said that it was being investigated as to how and why the police kept sending girls to the shelter home even after its recognition was withdrawn and a closure order was issued. The district children officer is checking all records, she said.