When Preet Mandir 'kidnapped' a baby

Date: 2006-07-11
Source: IBN Live

Ruksh Chatterji / CNN-IBN

Goa: After CNN-IBN exposed Preet Mandir's operations in Goa, the state government has cancelled their license to run the adoption centre.

But the cancellation alone cannot undo the ordeal of a 16-year-old unwed mother Lakshmi (name changed to protect identity) whose baby Preet Mandir forcibly attempted to take.

The boy she had been in love with and whose baby she was carrying, refused to marry her.

To escape social ostracism, Lakshmi decided to leave her village in Davangiri in central Karnataka and come to Goa to deliver the child.

Little did she know she had arrived at the newest base of the baby snatchers.

Her child was only 15 days old when a woman called Celsa Antao, an alleged agent of Preet Mandir, persuaded her into coming and staying here. That was when the trouble started.

"In Preet Mandir they wouldn't let me feed the child or even touch her. They even made me sign some papers and asked me to leave,” Lakshmi said.

However, Antao woman has a different story.

"My social workers in the field told me about this girl who as about to throw the child into the dustbin . That is why we sent her to Preet Mandir," Antao said.

Documents available with CNN-IBN revela how Lakshmi's baby was stolen:

Lakshmi's age was fudged and she was shown as a major. [adult]

She was then sent to Preet mandir with a recommendation for adoption

There she was made to sign adoption acceptance papers.

All this was done when Preet Mandir didn't have a license to operate in Goa

That's when Lakshmi began the fight to get the baby back and approached Arun Pandey of Anyay Rahit Zindagi, an NGO

"A minor girl came to us from Baina to say that her child had been taken from her we then went along with some other NGOs to Preet Mandir to rescue the child," Pandey says.

But what's happeneing with the enquiry into the case?

"The matter is being looked at by the secretary of Women and child Department .. so we are waiting for this report,” Goa Chief Secretary J P Singh says.

A year has gone by and the findings are still awaited.

Of course, the irony is the fact that Lakshmi went through this ordeal in Goa, a state that has a special legislation to protect the rights of children.

This just goes to show that laws are of little help if the administration doesn't have the will to enforce them

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