It was almost a year ago. I was in Dehradun those days. At the same time, I met a senior woman police officer of the state. It was an informal meeting, but whatever that officer said that day, it still haunts me.
I am referring to this meeting today because a similar disturbing news is coming from Bihar these days. Rape of 29 girls living in a girl child in Muzaffarpur, Bihar has been confirmed. These girls have been raped not once, but many times. This thing was revealed when Tiss audited this girl child, ‘Tis Institute of Social Sciences’.
Tis report is also disturbing because it is not limited to just one girl child. In the report, child houses located in Muzaffarpur as well as many other districts of Bihar have also been discussed. There are at least 15 such children in home Bihar where sexual abuse and violence has been reported to children. The glimpse of how hell lives within these children’s homes for the protection of children is clearly visible.
Crisis In Dehradun
The situation in Dehradun is also similar. Or perhaps even more frightening. In 2015, there was a similar news from Nari Niketan based in Dehradun. Information about the sexual exploitation of women living there began to be revealed when an anonymous letter came out. It was told in this letter that destitute women living in Nari Niketan have been sexually abused for a long time and many big officials and leaders of the state are involved in this. Initially, the administration rejected this anonymous letter and the things written in it. But when a daily newspaper started taking up the matter, the administration was forced to take cognizance of the matter.
After this, many startling things started coming out. The words written in anonymous letters proved to be true and rape of many women was confirmed. A mute-deaf woman living in Nari Niketan was also pregnant after rape, who was miscarried and the fetus was buried in a forest some distance away from Nari Niketan. When the matter was investigated, the police also recovered the undeveloped fetus from the forest.
In 2015-16, this case was discussed in the whole country. Along with the sexual exploitation of women living in Nari Niketan, it was also revealed that many women have also been sold from here. I was also reporting on this matter during that time, so my interest in this matter continued even further.
During this time I also met a woman who was sold from another Nari Niketan from Uttarakhand. After hearing this woman’s objection, it was also known that the situation of women Niketan is almost same in the whole state. Here women are subjected to violence, they are exploited, raped and even sold.
This reality of women Niketans is frightening and the silence in this whole matter of administration makes it even more disturbing. But the more disturbing reality from all these things is what those women officers told me last year. In the meeting that has been mentioned at the beginning of this article, I am writing here in the words of the lady officer who told me:
‘The truth of Nari Niketan has come out, it has only revealed half the picture. The whole picture is far more frightening than this. An entire organized gang works in it, which includes many big officials and ministers of the state. I am telling you this thing with full confidence and from my personal experience. Not only in Nari Niketan, but also in Balika Niketan, where minor girls live, there are extremely hellish situations. From there, the girls are sent to big officials and leaders. I myself am a witness to this.
I am telling you my eyes and eyes. A few months ago I went on a tour of the girl child Niketan of Dehradun. I saw a girl talking on a mobile phone. I was surprised to see this. Minor girls are not allowed to keep mobiles because they are girls and girls. The institute has a land-line phone and any girl who needs to talk to someone can do it with the land-line. If someone’s phone has to come for the girls, then it also comes on the land line.
I asked the girl where did her mobile come from? The girl was terrified, she did not answer. I took the mobile from him. When I asked the staff of Balika Niketan about this, she told me that instead of being ashamed, Madam, this mobile has been given to this girl from above, you should return this mobile. I scolded the staff but in spite of this I was repeatedly asked to return the mobile. I flatly refused to return the mobile and said that I will talk to Sunita Madam about this. (Sunita is a prominent woman IAS officer of the state. We are printing her changed name. These IAS officers are known for their honesty and strict attitude.)
The story behind this is that the female officer returned from the minor girl with a mobile phone. She added:
I returned home. The evening was already over, so I decided that the next morning I would go to the Secretariat and inform Sunita Madam about this whole matter. There was a call on that mobile at around 9 o’clock in the night. I did not pick up the call. There were many calls from this number again. When I checked that number, the ground slipped under my feet. That number belonged to Senior IAS ******** Sahab.
You wouldn’t believe what that person’s name was on that girl’s number that night.
Who came Apart from the officials, that minister’s PRO also got a call on that number that night. I did not sleep that night. I kept trying to understand who is involved in this system. All this was happening when Nari Niketan had become famous all over the country last year. I waited for morning and then first I reached Sunita Madam.
Ground Slipped Under Feet
Some other officers were also sitting in Sunita Madam’s office in the Secretariat. They told me to wait. I sat on a bench outside the office and during this time kept thinking that I would also tell Madam about all these numbers from which this mobile phone has received calls overnight. I will show a glimpse of the people of the state who are involved in crimes with minor girls.
After about half an hour those officers came out and Madam invited me inside. Before I could say anything, Madam said, ‘Did you go to Balika Niketan yesterday?’ I answered yes. At the same time I told that ‘Madam there are many illegal activities going on there and I have also got a mobile phone with a girl in which …’ While interrupting me, Madam said, ‘I know. You return this mobile to that girl.
I could not believe Sunita Madam. For a while, I did not understand anything. I could not believe that what I heard was really what Madam said. I could not even ask her any questions, she got busy with her files. Is Sunita Madam also part of the confusion I was having all night and the system I was worrying about?
I worked with Sunita Madam. I knew that no one could doubt his honesty. But then why did Madam say this? Is she also deliberately ignoring the matter? Knowing that how many underage minor girls are being inadvertently scratched in Balika Niketan?
I stood quietly in my place for two-three minutes, engrossed in the same turmoil. Then when Madam looked at me, I quietly came out of her room. I had never had such frustration before in my life. Now I was also ashamed of which mouth I would go to return this mobile. Balika Niketan’s staff would laugh at me. Yesterday, I had brought a mobile with great strictness and had come to say that to punish all the culprits. Now should I go there with a face to return the mobile?
Well, I went to return the mobile and also became a laughing stock. The staff there was staring at me with a suppressed smile and despite being right, I was stealing eyes from them. It is not that I had never found government officials involved in crimes before. But such a huge mechanism is active in the sexual exploitation and rape of minor girls, and even the most honest officers of the state cannot do anything on this, or were not doing anything intentionally, this knowledge I broke down within.
I once even thought that I should take up this matter through some other means. But only a few days of headlines were made in the media, some names were tossed and then the matter would cool down. Then there is no one to support me. Also, the investigation would be the responsibility of the government agency itself. And what comes out in such an investigation in which the entire system is involved in a crime. The desperation that I felt that day will probably be with me all my life.
The words of these women officers also pushed me into the same frustration that they probably felt themselves that day. Any sensitive person can feel this frustration. I am also desperate because I have hidden all the names in this article, knowing it. Neither I nor those women officers have so much evidence against these names that they can be proved guilty in the court.
I also get immersed in deep frustration thinking how these women officers will feel when they are exposed to those people who are involved in this crime. All those criminals would know that this woman has all the information about our misdeeds, yet it cannot spoil us anything. Then the shamelessness with which they would see these female officers, how difficult it would be for these women to face them.
On the other hand, there is no shame in their eyes who are raping minor girls every day or watching them happen. After Uttarakhand, now the story of girl child Niketan of Bihar has also come out and the names of many ministers and leaders are also coming there. It is possible to a large extent that in other parts of the country the condition of child houses will be similar. In the name of providing protection to orphans and destitute children, these children’s homes and girl Niketan have become the biggest bases of their exploitation.