Lucknow: The Muzaffarnagar police in Uttar Pradesh has arrested the owner of an ashram in the town, along with a disciple, for allegedly sexually assaulting minor children from the Northeast.
According to the police, Bhakti Bhushan Govind Maharaj, owner of the Gaudiya Math, would not only sexually abuse these boys but also beat them. They also arrested his disciple Akhilesh Das in connection with the case.
Talking to ThePrint, Inspector Sanjeev Kumar of the Bhopa police station in Muzaffarnagar said Bhakti Bhushan and his disciples used to keep 10 boys at the ashram in the garb of teaching and educational purposes.
“All these children are from the Northeastern states, especially Mizoram and Tripura,” Kumar said. “The main accused, Bhakti Bhushan Govind Maharaj, also sexually abused four of these children. Medical report in this case has confirmed sexual abuse. Apart from this, other children have also complained about being physically assaulted.”
All 10 have been rescued.
The four boys who were sexually abused are aged between 9 and 12 years. Of the remaining six, five are aged 10 to 15 years, while one is 18 years old, said the officer.
According to the inspector, Bhakti Bhushan has been charged under Section 377 (sexual activities against the order of nature), Section 323 (for voluntarily causing hurt and knowingly berating someone), and Section 504 (to deliberately humiliate the other person) of IPC. In addition to this, he has also been charged under the provisions of POCSO Act.
Kumar added that the ashram had been operating since 2008, and that it had two classrooms, a blackboard and two laptops. There is also a kitchen where food was prepared for the children. A big hall was also constructed where all these children used to live. It has now been sealed.
Action taken after complaint on child helpline
The district administration swung into action Friday after it received a complaint on the child helpline. Soon after this call, members of the Child Welfare Committee along with a police team reached the ashram and arrested the accused.
Sources said when the Child Welfare Committee members spoke to the children, it was revealed that they were forced to clean utensils, raise cow dung and sweep floors while staying at the ashram. Apart from this, they were forced to feed the cattle.
The accused allegedly used to sexually abuse the children after showing them porn videos, sources said.
According to local media reports, Govind Maharaj’s disciples were allegedly hand-in-glove in his illegal activities. According to the children, they were denied meals and kept hungry as punishment for their refusal to listen to the accused. Quite often they were also brutally beaten.
Narrating their ordeal in front of Children Welfare Committee members, four children also displayed injury marks on their bodies.
Muzaffarnagar District Magistrate (DM) J. Selva Kumari confirmed to the media that four of the victims are minors. “The allegations levelled by the rescued children were thoroughly investigated. Then a medical checkup of these kids was conducted,” she said. “The victims have also registered their statements in the presence of the magistrate.”