The Delhi Police along with Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal on Thursday rescued 41 minor girls from an ashram in Delhi's Rohini.
This comes after a PIL was filed by NGO Foundation for Social Empowerment, which said that several minors and women were allegedly being illegally confined at the "spiritual university" of Virender Dev Dixit, referred to as the founder and spiritual head of the Adhyatmik Vishwa Vidyalaya. It was claimed that the girls were kept in "animal-like" conditions behind metal doors in a "fortress" surrounded by barbed wire.
Maliwal, who had accompanied the police to inspect the place, said it seems the ashram is like a cage, even Tihar jail's condition would be better than this. "It is really hard to go inside it and if one is able to enter the premises, it will be impossible for her to come out of this place," the Delhi Commission for Women chief said. She even demanded that the accused Baba Virendra Dev Diskhit should be arrested immediately.
More than 40 girls who kept under illegal confinement rescued from an ashram in Delhi's Rohini yesterday evening. DCW chief Swati Maliwal said 'the accused Baba Virendra Dev Diskhit should be arrested immediately' pic.twitter.com/XXdO7k6z8R— ANI (@ANI) December 22, 2017
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court has directed founder of Rohini ashram to be present before it on January 4.
The Delhi High Court on Thursday raised doubts over the ashram's claims that the female inmates there were not illegally confined, saying that if they were free, why were they being kept behind locked doors.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar asked why the ashram's founder and spiritual head was not making an appearance if he was genuine and honest. "Where is he? This inquiry (by the CBI) into the ashram, where girls and women were allegedly kept in illegal confinement will throw him in suspicion, if he does not appear," the bench said and sought his appearance before the CBI.
The counsel for the ashram, however, told the bench that its founder was not in Delhi and he has sent the message about the court's order through someone else.
It asked the ashram's lawyer, who claimed that he was not representing Dixit, that "if you are claiming that the inmates are free, then why are you controlling their movements? "Why are you controlling, how they should dress? Why are you not allowing them to meet their parents? Why does your ashram look like a fortress and why are there metal doors, grills and locks at every five feet interval," the bench asked.
It asked why the women are not being allowed to move out of the ashram.
The court had directed the counsel to give information about Dixit by Friday, while cautioning him not to act as proxy between the founder and the court.
The bench also inquired into the financial details of the ashram and sought to know from where they were getting funds to run the institution.