Bangalore, Oct 22, DHNS:
After a scandal involving the mysterious deaths of beggars came to light in August, the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has busted a racket involving orphans, 19 of whom were rescued from a non-registered orphanage at Kalkere in Horamavu here on Friday.
The Commission got cracking after it received an anonymous letter stating that a seven-year-old boy had died under mysterious circumstances in the orphanage in June 2010. A team from the State Women and Child Development, Child Line (APSA) and Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) along with Ramamurthynagar police raided the orphanage located on an isolated road on Friday.
A three-member team from the Commission had earlier visited the orphanage on Thursday where it found that it had not maintained any records or documents of the children sheltered there. On Thursday, they found 29 children, in ages ranging from seven to 12, at the centre.
When the Commission went on an inspection on Friday, the team could rescue only 19 children as the rest had apparently been sent back to their homes located close to the orphanage. The rescued children were handed over to the Women and Child Welfare department which has given them shelter at the state-run Children’s Home for Boys, Children’s Home for Girls and Shishu Mandir, Hosur Road.
They will be produced before the Child Welfare Committee on Monday. Commission chairperson Nina Nayak said that when she, along with other team mates, visited the place on Thursday, she saw children working in the garden and a person monitoring them with a stick. “We spoke to the children and they said they were made to work and beaten up many times. However, these children were also sent to different government schools and a private school nearby,” she said.
Nayak said the orphanage maintained no record of funding, though they received huge publicity through ‘justdial.com’. Rita Thomas, who runs the orphanage, admitted to the Commission that the bulk of the funding was in cash for which they did not maintain any receipts. As the Commission dug deeper, it was found that the orphanage authorities had given away 12 children for adoption, although it did not maintain any records on them or their adoptive parents.
Kalkere residents disclosed to the Commission that the underfed, malnourished and abused children would be paraded every weekend before visitors. When the team questioned the juvenile inmates on Aravind’s death, the children said that the boy’s body bore injury marks because of regular beatings and that he had a bout of diarrhoea. He was said to have been taken to a nearby hospital, but brought back dead to the orphanage.
The children said they were from Mysore, Mandya and a few other adjoining areas. Some of them claimed they had parents who earned their living as porters, vegetable vendors and construction workers.
The orphanage, which has been functional since 2005, operates out of a huge house for which they paid a monthly rental of Rs 7,500. The place was poorly furnished. Besides the orphanage, the commission raided several adjoining houses where several Malayalam-speaking women were found nursing babies of whom no records could be traced.
The Commission has asked the orphanage authorities to furnish records and documents of all the children who they sheltered. Nayak did not rule out a prostitution racket, but added that a thorough investigation must be carried out with assistance from the Child Welfare Committee and the police.