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Ananya Dutta,TNN | Jul 30, 2014, 02.17 AM IST
PUNE: The initial complaint about the child sex abuse scandal at a home in Karjat is proving to be the tip of the iceberg as more children have come forward narrating their horrifying experiences.
"So far 18 children have come forward and narrated their experiences — the youngest is merely a six-year-old boy while the eldest is about 14-years-old. Most of them have recounted the abuse that they suffered over a two-year-period with some enduring it for longer," said the social workers of Dnyana Devi Childline, the NGO that filed the original complaint in the case.
Social workers revealed that it took hours for the children to get past their initial reluctance and speak about the abuse that they suffered.
most of the children initially refuse to speak about the abuse they suffered and it usually takes hours to get them to open up.
"A 9-year-old girl came to us the other day. After she heard about the case through the media, her mother had been asking her about what happened to her at the school, but she refused to reveal anything. Gradually, she started admitting that corporal punishment was regularly meted out and that the main accused Ajit Dabholkar would often beat her up," a social worker said.
"As we asked her more questions, she began describing the sexual abuse that other children had suffered. She claimed that others had been abused but she was spared. Suddenly, she broke down and began to cry bitterly, eventually describing what she was put through," she added.
Social workers said that most of the children who have been traced down have had a similar reaction and it has taken four to six hours for some of them to open up.
"Some children are still in denial. For instance, there is a boy who refuses that he suffered any abuse personally but other children have independently described situations where he was abused by Dabholkar and the caretaker of the institution Lalita Tonde," a social worker said.
The children have described instances when a girl was stripped and then paraded before the others. Once all the girls were told to leave the room, leaving her alone with the young boys. Other children have recounted in graphic detail how Holi was celebrated by forcing them to play Holi after they had been stripped, they added.
"While the police were unable to locate any cameras that were recording these activities, all the children have claimed that they were filmed. They mentioned the same spots within the premises of the institution where they believed the cameras were placed," another social worker said.
Child rights activists have repeatedly raised their concerns about the handling of the case by the local police at Karjat, eventually forcing the state to transfer the case to the state's Criminal Investigation Department.