Hostel Warden arrested on molestation charges of minor tribal girls- Himachal

Shimla: Swiftly acting over allegations of molestation of minor tribal girls at a hostel being run by an national NGO in Solan, the police have arrested the warden.

A team of police officials led by Solan chief, Prem Kumar Thakur raided the hostel at Salgora (40 Km from Shimla), late on Tuesday night arrested 48 year old Pawan Goel, the hostel warden incharge.

The accused has been booked under section 354 IPC (Molestation) and section 3 of SC/ST Act,” said a police spokesman. “The police have acted upon a complaint of a 14 year old tribal girl from Kalpa in Kinnaur district, he added.

The girl is being treated for mental depression at IGMC hospital caused by repeated harassment of girl inmates at the hostel for over a year.

Social activist Ajai Srivastava brought the incidence to light by lodging the girls’ petition before ID Bhandari who is the additional director general of police (CID). The hostel on behalf of NGO ‘Bhartiya Adim Jati Sevak Sangh’, (BAJSS) was being run by Goel and his wife Kiran Goel.

Having a capacity for 30 girl students, the Adivasi Balika Education Complex is operating from a hired building in Salogra near Solan. The tribal welfare society BAJSS was founded by Thakur Bappa, an associated of Mahatma Gandhi and is funded by central grants.

Srivastava, chairman of public welfare Umang foundation disclosed to the media that 21 poor girls from Himachal and Jharkhand, in the age group of 13 to 18 who go to the local government school there were living in the hostel.

The complainant girl in her petition stated that the incharge was sexually harassing the girls for over a year and an earlier complaint to the local society by a parent of another girl had not improved the situation.

The girl has disclosed that Goel used to ask the girls to massage his body and did send obscene SMS to some of them, said Srivastava.

Other girls of the hostel have corroborates the obscene actions of the hostel warden, said Basher Chauhan, additional superintendent of police (ASP), Solan, who was part of the raid team.

Concerned with the second such incident coming to light, after police had arrested the principal and three teachers of a hostel being run by another NGO for mentally challenged girls last year, Srivastava demanded setting up of commission for child rights.

Expressing shock over the incident, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) has demanded a judicial inquiry by woman magistrate into the case.

Seeking a speedy trial into incidents of sexual exploitation of girl students by operated by NGO’s Falma Chauhan, vice-president AIDWA, said, “only a fast track trial would meet the ends of justice in such cases and the government must ensure hostels for girls must be run by female wardens.”

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