Agra: A 62-year-old scientist has been arrested for allegedly sexually abusing minor girls by luring them with toffees and chocolates, the police said on Wednesday.
“Vishnu Dutt Sharma, working with Jalma Institue of Leprosy and Other Mycobacterial Diseases, was arrested last night,” Shailendra Kumar, SHO, Taj Ganj police station said.
Also known as the India Centre of Japanese Leprosy Mission for Asia (JALMA), the institute was established in April 1976. Founded in 1966, it was handed over to the government and subsequently to the Indian Council of Medical Research.
According to a complaint filed by father of one of the victims, the accused took young children to the terrace of his house and abused them.
Sharma, who is due to retire in September, is married with children, the police added.
Shailender Singh, station house officer of Tajganj, said, “Since the accused is well-known and he holds a respected post in the institute, nobody had any idea about the ongoing sexual abuse. Sharma used to lure the girl to his house almost every day, but on Monday evening her mother got suspicious and questioned the girl, who narrated the assault.”
The abuser and the victim are neighbours at the institute’s quarters.
The girl’s parents said in their complaint that Sharma had been making advances towards their daughter for over the past two months. On Monday, he allegedly took the girl to the roof of the institute’s residential wing.
The girl’s mother said she called out to her daughter and when she did not get any reply she suspected something to be amiss. She went to the rooftop and saw Sharma attempting to rape the child. Sharma reportedly fled the spot and the girl’s mother immediately disclosed the matter to the family.
The girl’s family said they used to consider Sharma an “elderly member of the scientist fraternity” and that he was like a “grandfatherly figure” for their daughter.
“During investigations, we came across the six-year-old daughter of another junior scientist living next to Sharma’s home, who said she too had been assaulted by him. Sharma has confessed to both allegations and even attempted to justify his crime,” the station house officer of Tajganj added.
“The matter was reported to the Tajganj police on Tuesday morning and facts narrated in the complaint were verified and found to be true. A case was registered against Sharma under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act,” said superintendent of police (city) Kunwar Anupam Singh.
On Tuesday, Sharma was sent to jail. He was booked under section 376 (rape) of IPC and section 3/4 of the POCSO Act.
Authorities at the premier institute expressed shock over their senior colleague’s arrest.