The authorities on Tuesday swooped down on an ashram in Delhi’s Rohini after a group of parents approached the Delhi High Court alleging that a self-styled godman was holding a number of girls captive in “animal-like” behind metal doors in a "fortress" surrounded by barbed wires, and are being sexually exploited.
The matter came to light when a team of Delhi Police and Delhi Women Commission which also had Swati Maliwal, on Delhi High Court’s directive, raided the Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya run by Baba Virender Dev Dixit in north Delhi’s Rohini.
Shockingly, the workers in the ashram reportedly held the police team in their custody for about an hour. It was after the arrival of additional police force, that the team was rescued, along with several girls.
India TV reporter Atul Bhatia reached ashram and tried to talk to the parents of the girls who are allegedly held captive in the ashram. Father of a girl told Atul that he has been trying to take his daughter for the last 14 years, and has met her only once.
Atul also tried to talk to the workers of the ashram to dig out the truth, but they were so terrified that they didn’t tell anything. A female worker said that only spirituality is taught there.
The court has now directed the CBI to investigate the alleged illegal confinement of girls and women.
Taking note of the "seriousness and the sensitivity of the matter", a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked the CBI director to forthwith constitute a special investigation team (SIT) which will take charge of all the records and documents pertaining to the case.
The court asked the CBI to investigate the FIRs lodged in Delhi against the Rohini-based ashram and its founder-cum- spiritual head Virender Dev Dixit and the daily diary entries relating to complaints of missing girls, commission of sexual offences and even a case of suicide there.
Directions were also issued to the institute and its founder to produce tomorrow the full details and particulars of every inmate lodged in the two buildings housing male and female staff and followers.
They were also asked to inform the court tomorrow about the whereabouts of one of the girls, at present missing from the institute, and when she would be produced before the bench.
When officials of Delhi police raided the ashram, they found sedative medicines and injections, along with several CDs. They also found documents containing personal information of several girls.
The committee, comprising lawyers Ajay Verma and Nandita Rao, gave a report to the high court detailing the "horrible" living conditions of the over 100 girls and women who were housed in "animal- like conditions with no privacy even for bathing". The inmates seemed to be under the influence of drugs, it said.
The panel members also said they were assaulted by the institute staff and kept locked up for nearly an hour when they went to inspect the institute yesterday.
Sex and particularly sexual abuse is not uncommon among the massive network of self-styled godmen, gurus and preachers of various faiths in India.
In August, a court sent Haryana sect leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to jail for 20 years for raping two of his female followers.
Since then, sordid details have emerged of how he sexually exploited dozens of girls and women, while acquiring massive amounts of wealth and wielding influence on the masses as well as politicians.