Bhopal: State police do not have power to check or inspect hostels and are only instructed to keep a watch on boarding facilities during routine roundup. However, since a number of hostels are unregistered and running illegally – many of them at residential areas – they escape police scrutiny.
The rape horror at a private hostel for differently abled girls in Awadhpuri area has triggered security concerns for children and girls living in such facilities. Ashwini Sharma, director of a hostel had allegedly raped a deaf and mute girl. Sharma, who has been arrested, has also been accused of molesting other inmates of the hostel.
There is no specific law, act or guidelines to keep an eye on hostels, said a highly placed police official on condition of anonymity. “During meeting with collector or with officials of women and child welfare department we are told that during routine security roundups, we shall also visit the hostels, specially the girls’ hostels.
Importantly, it is not mandatory to make the visit,” the officer informed. There is no guideline or law entailing inspection of hostel on regular basis and as such we do not have any power to inspect or monitor hostel on regular basis, he added.
They do not have any responsibility to prepare data or details of the students living in their hostel or submit it to any government agency. The local bodies register the hostels and provide them the licence to run it, even then a very few people get their hostel registered.
“We register the hostels when we are approached and issue licence to run it,” said Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) deputy commissioner, Harish Gupta. Importantly, the job of local bodies ends with the licence issuance as they never bother to supervise or monitor the registered hostels. Taking advantage of the lacuna, a number of hostels are running illegally without fear of law, these hostel directors are least bothered to inform police about the students living in their facilities.
A number of persons are operating hostels in their houses of which even the people living in their neighbourhood are ignorant. Dozens of such hostels are out of sight of the law enforcement agencies. IG Bhopal Jaideep Prasad, while talking to Free Press said that the state needs a ‘hostel regularity mechanism’ to put check on unrestrained working of such boarding facilities.
If such a mechanism is developed, then the hostel directors would have the compulsion to maintain the records of the inmates and inform the law agencies and departments. Besides, police will also get power to regularly inspect such facilities, he added.