Hyderabad: The women development and child welfare department (WDCW) rescued all the remaining girls from a shelter home in Miyapur after the physical and sexual abuse of a 14-year old girl at the home came to light.

WDCW officials said they have questioned the other girls to inquire if they, too, were violated. The shelter home’s license has been suspended.

Sarah (name changed) moved to her uncle’s house in February this year after the number of COVID-19 cases in India began increasing. However, close to 50 girls stayed back at the shelter. Following an FIR and the arrest of the accused, all the girls have been rescued and shifted to other state-led shelter homes.

The case came to light on 31 July after a zero FIR was registered by Sarah’s relative. The girl, who had been living at the Maruthi orphanage-cum-shelter home in Miyapur since 2015, was physically and sexually abused by a donor at the home, Venugopal.

On 7 August, the Ameenpur police booked Venugopal, the owner of the home Vijaya, and her brother Jaydeep under Sections 376 (3) (punishment for rape of woman under 16 years of age), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) of the Protection of Child from Sexual Offences Act 2012. Sarah, however, lost her life in the early hours of Wednesday at Niloufer Hospital where she was admitted due to dietary issues. Her body has been sent for postmortem.

Speaking to NewsMeter about the future course of investigation, the commissioner of the WDCW, Divya Devarajan, said, “A high-powered committee comprising officials from the state council for protection of child rights, the child welfare committee, the women’s safety wing, and the women’s commission has been formed to find out the other girls were also abused.”

She further said they have requested the director-general of police to combine all the FIRs and launch an investigation into the case with officials not below the rank of ACP/ASP.

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