UP Police arrests Muzaffarnagar ashram owner over sexual abuse of minors

Muzzaffarnagar: Police in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar has arrested Swami Bhakti Bhushan Maharaj, the owner of Gaudiya math ashram in connection with the sexual assault of eight minors. Reports indicate that the ashram manager has also been taken into custody.

A team of the Muzaffarnagar district child helpline had raided the Gaudiya math ashram on July 8 after complaints that minor inmates were being subjected to sexual assault. The rescued minors originally hailed from either Tripura or Mizoram.

The matter came to light earlier this week when eight minors rescued from the Gaudiya math ashram in Muzaffarpur alleged sexual assault. Medical reports of the children confirmed sexual abuse in the case of at least four of the children.

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Parents of the children claim that they were enrolled in the ashram for studies. Complaints have revealed that accused Swami Bhakti Bhushan Maharaj thrashed the minors when they failed to successfully complete the chores assigned to them.

Child helpline officials had escorted the minors to Bhopal police station where their statements were recorded. Poonam Sharma, chief of the Muzaffarnagar unit of child helpline had revealed that her team was alerted about the treatment being meted out to minors at the ashram through a telephone call.

The children, who would often be treated like slaves, were asked to massage, bring bidis and alcohol for the Maharaj. Reports say that the manager of the ashram would force them to drink alcohol calling it ‘coronavirus vaccine’, watch porn, and would sexually assault them. The refusal to submit to his whims resulted in beating, one of the children said. Money sent by the parents would also be used up and be accounted for as ‘living costs.’

The horrors were revealed in a statement given to the Child Welfare Committee.

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