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4 booked in cases of death, sexual assault still working at Balgram

The Balgram shelter authorities have admitted that four of the home’s staff members embroiled in the death case of an inmate and a sexual assault case of another have not been discharged from duty.

The shelter’s matron, nurse and counsellor were booked for negligence leading to the death of Kalyani Gite, and two of them were arrested on August 2. In the last week of October, Child Welfare Committee (CWC) member Anita Vipat lodged a complaint against another of the home’s matron for failing to report the sexual assault on a six-year-old girl by a 13-year-old boy at Balgram.

SOS Balgram President Rajanikant Nansi, Vice-President Suchita Shorff and Trustee Shobhana Ranade
SOS Balgram President Rajanikant Nansi, Vice-President Suchita Shorff and Trustee Shobhana Ranade

Rajanikant Nansi, president of SOS Balgram, admitted that all four employees are still in service and the decision to dismiss them from the job would be taken only after consultations, a process which may take another two months. Meanwhile, Ravindra Jadhav, a former inmate of Balgram who exposed the authorities’ attempt to cover up the misdeeds of the shelter’s employees, has gone on a fast outside Balgram premises for the last three days, claiming that funds collected for children’s welfare are being misused. At the same time, he added that the authorities have managed to arrange for funds required for the accused employees’ bail.

Reacting to the allegations, Shobhana Ranade, trustee member of Balgram, said, “Our employees have been working with us for many years and it is our duty to protect them. These inmates are mere suspects and it is inappropriate to take punitive action against them before the court pronounces them guilty.” The shelter’s president Nansi said that the decision about the welfare funds was made only after consulting other board members. Asked whether it was appropriate to allow tainted employees to continue working, Nansi said that it was a mistake on part of the authorities and the employees would be relieved from duty within two months.

The recent case
In October last week, the Yerawada police booked a minor boy for sexually assaulting a six-year-old girl. They also booked the matron for failing to inform CWC regarding this incident. This incident was seen as a fallout of Balgram’s reluctance in providing separate arrangement for the girls and boys, as provided by rule no 40 of Juvenile Justice (Protection and care of Children) Act, 2007. Reacting to this, Suchita Shroff, vice-president of SOS Balgram, said, “The organisation believes in creating a family-like atmosphere for children. So we are in the process of finding a solution to this.”

The District Women and Child Development (DWCD) officer Suvarna Jadhav said that despite repeated reminders, Balgram failed to comply with the instructions. A few months ago the department even served them a show-cause notice asking them to explain why the organisation should not be taken over by the DWCD.

House of horrors
A 6-year-old girl died on August 2, a day before police were to record her statement in the case of her mother’s murder last year. The child’s post-mortem report indicated that she died due to drowning. Police arrested Sukhada Ramchandra Dandekar, and Vandana Balu Pote. Preeti Gawande has secured anticipatory bail.¬†Yerawada police booked matron Kusum Dake for failing to inform the authorities about the sexual assault on a girl by another minor boy in February earlier this year. Police are yet to arrest Dake.

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