Rights activist says District Women and Child Development Officer threatened her with dire consequences if she went to media with findings of inquiry panel

You muster enough courage to stand up and point out the malpractices in the system and what do you get in return? Harassment and threatening calls. The case of Dr Yamini Adbe, a surgeon and member of the NGO Human Rights Ek Prakhar Shodh Mohim, is no different.

Or else... Vidyavati Ashram in Kamshet (inset); Dr Yamini Adbe,
who says she was threatened by District Women and Child
Development Officer Suvarna Pawar on Nov 24. Pic/Krunal

Adbe was allegedly threatened by District Women and Child Development Officer Suvarna Pawar on November 24. Dr Adbe had pointed out many criminal misdeeds that were allegedly going on in Vidyavati Ashram under the pretext of running a charitable trust for orphaned children.

Pawar, who had earlier appointed Adbe to the five-member committee looking into the  the rape and impregnation of 13-year-old girl in Vidyavati Ashram, allegedly warned her of dire consequences if she continued her investigations.

MiD DAY had first reported on the rape of the minor on November 3. Dr Adbe said her staff members and patients, who were present in her OPD on November 24 around 5.14 pm, were witness to her telephonic conversation with Pawar.

Dr Adbe lodged a complaint against Pawar (1300/11) under Section 507 of the Indian Penal Code (criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication). Dr Adbe had observed that important official documents at Vidyavati Ashram seemed to be fabricated by the staff of the orphanage, apparently hurriedly, when the committee members went to conduct inquiry into the rape and impregnation of minor, which went unnoticed till the girl became six-months pregnant.

When Dr Adbe asked for papers regarding admission of children, instead of furnishing them, several excuses were proffered. Moreover, staff members claimed to have handed over 14 kids to guardians during the course of time, whereas they had earlier told the authorities that all children were orphans.

Instead of taking stern action, Pawar allegedly defended the owner. "It is strange that when I objected to the misdeeds at the orphanage, the lady officer feels offended and threatened me," said Adbe. Constable Satish Kudale of Dehu Road police station said the police had registered a case of offence against Pawar for allegedly threatening Dr Adbe.

The other side
Suvarna Pawar, District Women and Child Officer, refuted the charges, saying she had not threatened Dr Yamini Adbe. "Dr Adbe did not tell us that she was a central government employee when I appointed her a committee member. The only reason I appointed her is as I wanted transparency.

I did call her, but only to advise her against disclosing any information related to the committee's findings to the media," said Pawar. "The majority of committee members feel that till DNA findings are available, it is improper to submit a report to the government."

On 14 kids being handed over to guardians, she said, "We will appoint a probation officer to investigate it. We'll write to CWC officers to trace them. The orphanage owners have given us addresses of relatives to whom the 14 kids were handed over, and we will conduct inquiry to find out if proper procedure was followed or not. Even if one kid is missing, action will be taken against those who are guilty."