Monday, March 8, 2021

Delhi: FIR against two children’s homes for ‘abuse and irregularities’

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A first information report (FIR) was registered on Wednesday against two care homes for children after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) reported a host of abuse and irregularities such as sexual abuse, using the children for anti-CAA protests, not providing them the right living conditions, Covid-19 norms violations, among others, the police said.

The police identified the two homes as Umeed Aman Ghar, a home for boys, and Khushi Rainbow Home, a residence for girls — both based south Delhi.

“The NCPCR conducted inspections at the two homes on October 1 and submitted their findings to us. We did a preliminary enquiry after that and registered an FIR under the Juvenile Justice Act and the section 188 (disobedience to an order passed by a government servant) at Mehrauli,” Atul Kumar Thakur, deputy commissioner of police (south) said on Thursday.

According to Priyank Kanoongo, chairperson of NCPCR, the two homes are run by Centre for Equity Studies where activist Harsh Mander is a director. Kanoongo accused the officials of the two homes of trying to “derail” the enquiry process by saying that Mander was not connected to them.

While Mander remained unavailable for a response despite repeated phone calls and a text message, a response sent by the management of the homes said that Mander only conceived the Rainbow Homes Programme (HRP) under which the children are cared for.

The management said the NCPCR was trying to malign the reputation of HRP as Mander is a “known critic of the government and its policies”, they added that Mander was no longer associated with the “day-to-day running” of the programme.

Kanoogoo said there were shortcomings in how the children at the home for boys were kept and the arrangements for their toilets and bathrooms despite several incidents of sexual abuse.

The management of the homes said none of the three known cases of sexual abuse between 2012 and 2016 involved the staff there and was perpetrated by inmates. They said all cases were brought to the notice of the authorities and led to registration of FIRs.

But DCP Thakur said that there were reports of sexual abuse continuing and not being reported. However, no cases of sexual abuse was found in the home for girls.

Kanoogoo, as well as the findings of an inspection by NCPCR on October 1, pointed to alleged irregularities in the financial aspects of the two homes, the living conditions of the children and flouting of several applicable laws.

Other allegations, the DCP said, was of the children being sent to attend anti-CAA protests, not having necessary measures in place to deal with Covid-19 and foreign nationals visiting the homes.

The management denied any financial irregularities, and said that no children were sent to attend any protests and there were no set rules or standard operating procedures (SOPs) for several shortcomings that the commission noted during the inspection.

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