8 yrs after HC strictures, nothing has changed at vastigruha
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In a matter of three months, 42 inmates have fled Navjeevan Mahila Vastigruha, a protection home in Mankhurd for women rescued under Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act.
This, despite the state government claim of affirmative action to ensure security is beefed up at the home and after accepting recommendations of Justice Chandrashekhar Dharamadhikari Committee set up by Bombay High Court.
Almost a year after the government accepted the committee report in December last year, condition of the protection home remains dismal and inmates continue to escape.
The shelter has 212 inmates, almost double the sanctioned capacity, but only 50 per cent of the sanctioned staff.
"While the sanctioned capacity of the home is 100, we have 212 women and just seven staffers," said superintendent Ashwini Dige.
In September, soon after the first set of women — 19 in three days — fled, then superintendent Tushar Latne was transferred.
"Transferring is no solution. With absolutely no staff, one cannot curb the growing menace," Dige said, denying allegations of rape and sexual harassment made by an escaped inmate in an interview to a tabloid.
The report, compiled over a period of two years, focused on violence against women in custody. "Security was one of the important concerns the report raised. We are in the process of increasing the compound wall height and deploying private security at the protection home," Rajendra Chavan, commissioner of the women and child development (WCD) department, said.
WCD department officials also claimed the security issue had already been discussed with the Mumbai police commissioner.
"Escorts provided at the protection home are sanctioned by police. We have been in talks with them," claimed Chavan.
After 141 inmates fled the shelter in seven months in 2004, the next breach happened only in 2012.
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