The Kerala Police registered 29 cases and arrested 18 people for sexually assaulting a minor girl in Malappuram district.
Police said the sexual abuse has been continuing since 2016 and was lodged in a shelter home run by Chief Welfare Committee (CWC). But, after her parents filed a plea, the CWC allowed them the custody of the girl, The Indian Express reported.
After a second POCSO case was registered in 2017, the committee shifted the girl to a government shelter, but her brother again sought custody. "As her family members were not involved in the case, the CWC allowed her custody to her brother in October 2019," the media quoted the police.
She later went missing from her brother's house in Palakkad. The police again took the girl into custody. During the counselling, the girl disclosed she was abused several times. Based on her statements, the police registered the cases and arrested the accused.
"As per the Juvenile Justice Act, a rescue home should be the last resort… Her family was not involved in the alleged incidents. It was counselling by CWC that led to the exposure of abuse," Committee chairperson Shajesh Bhasker told the media.
All the 18 were arrested under the POCSO Act. An inquiry has been initiated to learn the actual number of people involved in the crime.