The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has ordered an investigation into the alleged rape and torture of inmates of Anbu Jothi Ashram at Kundalapuliyur in Villupuram district. A fact-finding team will conduct a spot inquiry at the house on Monday and stay in Villupuram for five days to record the statements of victims, witnesses and officials.

According to sources at the Secretariat, the NHRC has written to the Joint Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Health Department that it had taken suo motu cognizance of media reports and ordered an inquiry into the charges.

Calling for copies of the records/documents related to the issue, the NHRC said that besides inquiring with the inmates, their relatives and the ashram’s owner, the team would question the Villupuram Superintendent of Police; the Station House Officer, Kedar police station; and the investigation officers handling the cases of torture, rape and missing persons. NHRC officials would also hold inquiries with the Collector, district mental health officials, the District Social Welfare Officer and the District Disabled Rehabilitation Officer. The officials were requested to provide all the documents translated in English.

The probe might throw more light on the violations that the ashram had committed, and the role played by the law-enforcement agencies. Among the materials sought are the documents pertaining to the registration of the ashram, procedures laid down for registration of homes in Tamil Nadu and papers related to the official inspections of the ashram.

The NHRC has also sought the list of inmates with their addresses and contact numbers of their families; the list of inmates rescued and the steps taken to reunite them with their families; the list of inmates reported missing; the details of treatment given to the inmates; the report of Forest Department officials on the capturing of monkeys from the ashram; and copies of complaints filed against the ashram.

The team would remain in Villupuram till March 25. The address of its temporary office and means of contacting its officials would be made public in a day or two, official sources added.

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