The Jamshedpur Police booked Mother Teresa Welfare Trust's director, his wife, and three others on Tuesday, June 8, for sexually assaulting and torturing two minor girls living in the institution.
The accused have been identified as Harpal Singh Thapar, his wife Pushpa Rani Tirkey, caretaker Deepa Singh, her son Aditya Singh and his friend Tony Singh. All of them have been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and several sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Rani also heads the East Singhbhum District Child Welfare Committee as a Chairperson.
The horrific incident came to light on Saturday, June 5, when Thapar approached the police after the girls went missing from the institution. The department tracked down the minors through their cellphones and found them at a house in Birsanagar the following day.
During the interrogation, the girls revealed they had escaped the shelter home to avoid the continuous torture and sexual assault they were victims of. Thapar and other men assaulted the minors, while Tirkey used to beat them up.
The minors studied at a nearby all girls' school and were sent to the institution after the school closed during the lockdown.
Both of them recorded the statements under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the special POCSO court of an additional sessions judge, Hindustan Times reported.
Thapar and his wife denied the allegations, called them mala fide and said they were ready to undergo a fair probe. In addition, they submitted a memorandum to the police on Monday evening.
Earlier this week, the Trust also made headlines after a video showing girls doing menial tasks, including working in a garbage dump, went viral on social media. This forced the district administration to take cognisance of the issue and formed a four-member team to investigate the matter.
This is not the first time the accused have come under the radar. Earlier, a woman had alleged that her husband, a panchayat ward member, was falsely implicated in a case of sexual harassment of a minor and sent to jail. Thapar had also allegedly demanded ₹15 lakh for settling the matter, the woman had said.