A day after Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan ordered an inquiry into media reports of sexual exploitation of women inmates in a State-run shelter home in Mankhurd here, the Mumbai Crime Branch has initiated a probe.

“We have started the inquiry. We are in the process of recording the statements of the warden and some women inmates of Navjeevan Mahila Vastigruh,” a senior Crime Branch official said here on Tuesday. Media reports said the women inmates lived in sub-human conditions and there was lack of food and basic hygiene facilities.

Recently, around 60 inmates had tried to escape from the shelter, that houses women rescued under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act. The authorities were able to apprehend 13 of the 36 who scaled the wall. Twenty-three managed to escape. This is the second attempt by inmates in the past one month.

One woman who claimed she had escaped from the home recently, told a newspaper that many inmates were routinely raped by men who walk in late in the night. She also alleged that there was a shortage of security and the victims’ complaints were not redressed.

The Bombay High Court on Monday took suo motu cognisance of the media report and asked the State government to respond.

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