46 girls rescued in India after reports of sexual abuse

Police have arrested 8 NGO officials so far while raids are on to nab other absconding accused persons

Patna: Authorities in Bihar have rescued 46 girls after reports of sexual abuse at a shelter home run by a non-government organisation.

The girls aged six and 18 years were lodged in the shelter home being run at Muzaffarpur, a north Bihar town some 80 kilometres from Patna.

Authorities said of the total number of girls rescued, 13 were facing mental health issues, apparently because of their repeated sexual exploitation.

Police have arrested eight NGO officials so far while raids are on to track down other absconding accused persons.

“The girls were being sexually exploited [and endured mental torture]. We have rescued all of them and a case has been registered against the accused persons,” Muzaffarpur’s senior superintendent of police Harpreet Kaur told the media on Saturday.

Police rescued the girls after a team of Tata Institute of Social Science, Mumbai which visited the shelter home in February this year reported sexual exploitation of inmates in its report to the state government.

The team submitted its report to the government last week.

The team had been asked to conduct a social audit of the shelter home.

Based on the report, the police later registered a case against the NGO officials under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).

“The officials running the NGO have been made accused in the case and further investigation is on,” police official Jyoti Kumari said.

Bihar social welfare minister Manju Verma said stern punitive action would be taken against the NGO officials if found guilty during the probe.

Short stay homes give shelter to girls who flee from their homes, unable to locate family due to unstable mental conditions or left unattended by parents. These homes are funded by the state government but run by NGOs.

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