Following receiving brickbats from the opposition and with the possibility of human trafficking not ruled out at the Anbu Jothi Ashram owned by a Christian couple, Jubin Baby and Maria in Villupuram, Tamil Nadu DGP, C. Sylendra Babu transferred the case to the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID) on February 18.
Tamil Nadu BJP has demanded the probe should be conducted by CBI. NCW has also probed.
The Anbu Jothi Asram in Kundalipuliyur near Vikrawandi in Villupuram earned a horror home tag for illegal detention, torture, chaining of inmates, sexual assaults, drugging and now suspected human trafficking after complaints several inmates missing from the rehabilitation home, functioning without any licence, infrastructure, workforce including medical experts. It has been operating for the last 17 years without a permit or Government monitoring.
The home has been functioning since 2005 and has branches in Tamil Nadu and Bengaluru. It was registered under the Nalla Sameriyar Charitable Trust, a self-styled ashram. Here needy women, men, abandoned elderly citizens, mendicants, alcohol and drug addicts and mentally challenged persons are admitted. Through its teams or police and the public, they are acknowledged. Sometimes families do bring their relatives here for various reasons.
The lid of the ashram and its functioning was opened by an inmate’s relative who could not find his father-in-law after coming back to India. Ashram’s reply was sent to Bengaluru, and on checking, there was no record of his stay, all created doubt, and he moved to Madras High Court.
The police and revenue administration has rescued 142 inmates, including many women. While 12 have been handed over to their family, 130 were admitted to the home for the Destitute and Health Care Centre. The house has been shut down, and its owner Jubin Baby and his wife Maria of Kerala and nine others have been arrested on 13 charges, including rape, assault, illegal confinement etc.
The home came into existence in a shed in the middle of a paddy field and now has a three-story building. Outside the home, there are cattle sheds where cows and buffalos are being reared, and the milk from them is for the consumption of home inmates. A native of Kerala’s Ernakulam, Jubin is also known as Anbu Jubin or Baby Jubin.
In 2005, he came upon Villupuram while volunteering at a private dwelling. There are rumours that Jubin and his wife Maria established a home in a small rented space in the Periyar colony with 12 people. Later, this expanded into a room with 200 individuals.
The investigators have so far found two properties allegedly owned by the couple in Tamil Nadu and one in Bengaluru. It is alleged that they have earned money in crores. Anbu Jothi Ashram’s involvement with the Greater Chennai Police’s Karunai Payanam effort, which sought to locate, treat, and reunite people stranded north Indians with their families, was also exposed by a thorough investigation of the institution’s operations. It also has close contact with doctors and pharmacies. It is alleged that the home got doctor prescriptions, and with its connection, pharmacies sourced medicines for misuse and sale for gain.
With the probe by police progressing, more startling things have com s out from its closet. Several inmates allegedly went missing, and their whereabouts could not be found.
While the owner of the home told police and others that he had shifted them to houses in Bengaluru and Rajasthan to avoid overcrowding in the Villupuram home but to prove the claim, he had no record to show, police say.
During the probe, they found fake police certificates authorising home administrators in those Rajasthan and Karnataka to dispose of bodies which, they doubt, the possibilities of human trafficking or other possible crimes.
The initial probe has shown at least 15 of the 52 inmates, who were moved from the Villupuram home to the New ARK Mission of India, Bengaluru, allegedly escaped. The home managers did not make any complaints in this connection.
Sources said, “inmates have been moved in batches to homes in other states over the years. As they do not have family or friends, there is nothing in ashram records to show their presence or existence. Interestingly most of the shift was hale and healthy persons and were in the age group of 30-50 years. There is a suspicion of human trading”.
In his complaint, US Citizen Halideen of Tirupur said Jabarullah, admitted to Anbu Jothi home on December 4, 2021` was among the 52 inmates shifted to Bengaluru and when enquired the home manager there claimed that the old man and 14 others had escaped from their home.
In her complaint, Ripa alias Ripane 30, from Kolkata, said she came to Villupuram bus stand-alone four years ago, and an unidentified man helped her admission to the ashram.
The owners and others, she said, “forced me to do kitchen and other work at the ashram and on December 3, 2002 Jubine baby took me to the branch ashram near Puducherry and raped me. Another inmate too, had told me that she was also repeatedly raped by him”.
The inmates said they were intimidating the women to give their bodies for their sexual lust; they would allegedly let loose a ferocious monkey into their room.
Some were given, it is learnt, sedative-laced drinks. They alleged that the inmates were tonsured, manacled, drugged, and raped.
Police said “many inmates had told us that “after entering the home, they were beaten by the staff daily to instil a sense of fear. Even the non-disabled would be chained, beaten up, and given some medicine regularly. This is to make them mentally and physically weak. By doing so, even healthy inmates would be reduced to a vegetable over some time.
Jubin baby would identify a group of inmates to be shifted to other states. Their status after that would never be known. We are also probing the missing persons and the possible organ stealing charges.”
Police have seized much incriminating material that might have been used to torture inmates, computers, storage devices and electronic gadgets. Two days after learning about the awful crimes, the authorities, on February 13, discovered more persons had been imprisoned in a different location in Kottakuppam, 50 kilometres from Anbu Ashram.
It is important to note last year July 25, Coimbatore police arrested six men from as many NGOs on charges of forcibly keeping 130 people with tonsured and able-bodied at a ‘temporary shelter home’ at Attukal near Thondamuthur.
Based on a complaint lodged by Perur tahsildar Indumathi, the Thondamuthur police arrested B Jubin, 44, from Anbu Jothi Ashram at Viluppuram; K George, 54, from Paralogathin Pathai Trust from Sathyamangalam in Erode district; A Selvin, 49, from Pugalidam Trust from Ambattur Estate in Chennai; V Balachandran, 36, from Meetpu Trust in Dharmapuri district; C Arun, 36, from Anbu Jothi Ashram from Chennai; and S Symon Senthilkumar, 44, from Adaikkala Karangal from PN Pudur in Coimbatore. They were booked under sections 294 (b), 342, 323, 355 and 506 (i) of the Indian Penal Code and remanded in judicial custody. Had the police acted diligently, they would have found Jubin’s ashram network.
Now the police have handed over the probe to CB-CID as the involvement of several states and suspicion of international organ trafficking gang in the murky affairs. The sleuths would travel to Karnataka, Rajasthan, to get more details about missing persons. It is a million-dollar question why some non-disabled men were sent to Bengaluru and Rajasthan. What happened to Jabarullah? In an interview on A you-tube channel, Maria, wife of Jubine, claimed that they buried more than 300 bodies of unclaimed orphans and destitute and the police have taken note of this revelation and started their probe into the same.
In one of the documents seized, police found a letter, deemed to be a fake, in 2021. They said, “it had shifted 53 persons who had no relatives. Letters have been given to police to bury the bodies treating them as unclaimed. it was a fake and given in Kedar police name “.
Villupuram SP, Shreenatha said that an investigation was being carried out into the claims that the home was burying or cremating unidentifiable and unclaimed dead in remote sections of the village. He further informed us that a search was being conducted for the missing residents of the Bengaluru house.
Meanwhile, National Commission for Women (NCW) representatives, under senior coordinator Kanchan Khattar, met the women treated at Government Villupuram Medical College hospital in Mundiampakkam. Khattar told reporters, “We have constituted a committee, and the inquiry is ongoing. Once the committee sends its report, we will give a more concise statement. We have constituted a committee, and the inquiry is ongoing. Once the committee sends its report, we will give a more concise statement”.
Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai has written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah seeking a CBI probe into the case due to the allegations of human and organ trafficking of the inmates.
The irregularities at home came to light after officials inspected the facility on February 10 following a Madras High Court order on a habeas corpus petition. He said it would be better if the CBI stepped in as the case involved three states. Annamalai said, “a wide range of criminal activities, such illegal detention, torture, sexual assaults, inter-state human trafficking and missing of several people seems to have happened, but they had gone unnoticed”.