Where are the Ghaziabad Girls? #atozchallenge #YesAllWomen

Girls allegedly abused at Balnath Ashram in Ghaziabad in 2006

For the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I’m blogging 26 days in April based on the alphabet and bringing you stories from the nonprofit Project Why.

Not all stories at Project Why have a happy ending, and today, I bring you the dark story of Ghaziabad Girls, from the outskirts of New Delhi, India. It makes me feel helpless and angry, but as a writer, I believe that stories have power, and we must keep telling them in order to be able to bring about change.

It was in 2006 that Project Why first heard of the existence of the Ghaziabad Girls. It was at an expat gathering where pictures of an organization based near New Delhi were shown by the host in the hope of garnering support. A sense of evil permeated the pictures and filled the audience with a sense of foreboding.

At Balnath Ashram in Ghaziabad girls were alllegedly abusedOn learning that this was a refuge for mentally challenged girls, Project Why managed to arrange a visit, and discovered a house of horrors at this Ghaziabad ashram. Around 50 girls between the age of 2 and 15, 15 of them mentally challenged, lived in squalor at a well-guarded and fenced building. Many did not have underwear, were rarely bathed and smelt foul. This had gone on for many long years.

The place was run by a ‘holy man’ who chanted his own praise. A search on the net brought up rumors of many girls sexually abused. The ‘holy man’ seemed very well-connected, so Project Why had to plan the next course of action.

Baba Balnath had alllegedly abused girls in this Ashram at Ghaziabad, near New Delhi

After the story was aired, the girls were rescued after a nightlong battle. (Here’s a 9-yr old video from one of India’s major news channels, NDTV. ) They were sent to different places. This was heartbreaking as they had bonded to survive. Because of the anonymity clause Project Why could not keep in touch with them or even know of their well-being. That fateful night civil society was outraged but the case remained in limbo. Few days later the ‘holy man’ appeared in court surrounded by his band of supporters and then deafening silence.

It has been 9 years of the ‘holy man’ on bail.

Balnath Baba allegedly raped women at his Ghaziabad AshramI have tried searching the internet for Balnath Ashram, where the girls were found in Ghaziabad, but other than a few scattered news reports from 2006, haven’t managed to find anything concrete. I was outraged then, and remain outraged now, but there’s not much I’ve been able to do, other than keeping these girls in my thoughts. As indeed has Anouradha Bakshi, the founder of Project Why, at whose behest these girls got out of that house of horrors.

Most of them must now be young women. No one knows where they are.


  ghaziabadgirls8Have you heard of situations like this where you live? Know of anyone who can help us track these girls and whether this ‘holy man’ was brought to justice? Will you support Project Why in its fight against poverty and illiteracy that are the main reasons such incidents take place?

To Donate Project Why, Click Here.
To Contact Project Why, Click Here

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Add Yours
  1. Bikramjit

    Oh GOD..

    but then in India we have had so many stories of the So called HOLY MEN.. pity is everyone follows them and inspite of people knowing what they do .. everyone still follows them ..

    I did not even know of this what a shame , its a shame for each indian I would say that such things are still going on and yet we the people are harping on how MERA BHARAT MAHAAN.. how can it be when a small child is not safe… SAD very SAD

  2. Susan Scott

    This is beyond sad and tragic. Children all over the world are abducted and used for nefarious purposes. We can never forget – and do what we can to prevent such happenings.

  3. Peter Nena

    It chills me. When a person describes themselves as “holy”, that’s when they should not be allowed near anyone. Historically, “holy” people are usually just lunatics and psychopaths.
    I hope the girls managed to live.

  4. Rajlakshmi

    I remember reading about this and was disgusted that someone was taking advantage of the little girls. So happy that Project Why stepped in but it’s sad that the culprit is still on bail 🙁

  5. Indywrites

    Yes, I had heard of this on news, 🙁 it was avidly followed till some other story took over the news. Indeed, helplessness is the foremost emotion but I hope these shares make a difference and the girls get justice.

  6. Keith Channing

    That men can be so cruel, while disturbing me, doesn’t surprise me. That justice can be so lacking is a scandal; one that should be addressed by the international community.

  7. Li @ Flash Fiction

    Sickening. I work with special needs children and they truly are some of the most voiceless and helpless when it comes to exploitation. We should all feel both disturbed and angry that this “holy man” is still walking around free with impunity.

  8. lexacain

    How outrageous! But there have been so many scandals to come out of India over the years, the fact the man was never punished doesn’t surprise me. There seems to be very little sympathy among the general populace for those less fortunate – particularly women – except for your friend Anouradha. She’s wonderful! India needs more people like her.

  9. Parul Thakur

    Gosh! Such a sad story and these holy men who they are, are just holy for namesake. Taking advantage of young girls is such a sad thing. Glad project why could pull them out from Ghaziabad!

    • Anouradha Bakshi

      This is too true. At Project Why we emphasize education for women and girls. We’re blessed to have the support of our community, volunteers, and donors in this effort. Whenever young women come to us we do our best to educate them, even when that means larger class sizes or more work us. Their education is more important.

  10. Dan Antion

    This is so sad to read, but you’re correct, these stories have to be told. I am sure that acts like this happen, more often than we think, and in many other places in many other countries. That the vulnerable are often exploited and that the people exploiting them are well connected and well respects, is not news.

    • Anouradha Bakshi

      So often these stories are not written about and even more often no one intervenes in the first place. We’re grateful that this issue was brought to our attention and even more grateful that Damyanti is keeping their story alive.

  11. XmasDolly

    Oh my, it truly saddens my heart that people can be so sick out there, and yet these children stuck together and I’m assuming fled from their capture, and this man was supposed to be some sort of a what? I don’t think so. So many try to hide behind the Lord… and they’re really one of Satan’s followers. Breaks my heart to see all those wonderful little faces. Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend. I’m following you social networks I can find and if you stop by me I hope you will do the same & follow me too. Hugs & have a great weekend. Nice to meet you!

  12. Million Shades of Life

    My heart bleeds for the girls who are used like play things. The money and power blinded people are a plague in our world. I wonder whether these are the demons disguised as humans; a human has humanity for everyone. These pompous and ignorant termites have destroyed so many lives, and yet they are not ashamed in walking with their heads held high.

    @Ankifreesoul from
    No Agenda Just Life
    Million Shades of Life

    • Anouradha Bakshi

      Your words ring true. We work hard at Project Why to engage in the grotesque things happening in the world through education and positive reinforcement. With positive role models and education the cycle will end.

  13. psharmarao

    I finally managed to get to read your worthy posts, each one such a profound human story that leads us to introspect and see the dark grey spaces in pur society and life we often overlook. Such a brave and worthy theme, very inspiring and heart breaking at the same time.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Thanks Pooja. The bravery and worthiness belongs to Project Why, I’m just the messenger.

  14. franklparker

    Such a sad story, but, as you say the whole truth has to be told however painful. I hope you find the girls and that they are getting the support and encourage they need and that the older ones have found satisfying careers. All to often it’s those who call themselves ‘holy’ who turn out to be most evil.

  15. jlennidorner

    J here, stopping by from the #atozchallenge – where I am part of Arlee Bird’s A to Z Ambassador Team.
    How has the first week of the challenge been for you so far? Are you meeting your goals of posting and hopping to other blogs?
    My blog still has a giveaway with bonus a to z challenges to encourage people to visit more stops. Thanks for your visit.
    That’s a horrible and messed up reality. I hope justice happens soon!

  16. projectwhy

    I can never forget the Ghaziabad Girls. At times like these you feel so inadequate as there is only that much you can do even if you want to do so much more. These girls deserved so much more. I pray that they are safe.

    • psharmarao

      Projectwhy your work is inspirational, wishing you more strength. Yes at times the very system that was put in place to support and protect us stands in our way and that’s disappointing. Praying for these girls.