• Sunday, 17 February 2019

Childcare institutions in Odisha indulging in acts of religious conversion: NCPCR

By Joymala Bagchi, New Delhi, Feb 5 : A fact-finding exercise of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has revealed that childcare institutions in Odisha indulge in the practice of religious conversion.

NCPCR, a statutory body under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005 and under the administrative control of Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, carried out the first phase of inspection with the help of nine teams between December 12 and 18 in Odisha.

It was found, during the inspection, that some of childcare centres were carrying out conversion practices, while many shelter homes were found to be in a pathetic state of affairs without even minimum basic facilities for the children, sources said.

According to sources, in as many as 19 districts of Odisha, the teams found poor infrastructure and no basic facilities. Many childcare units were being run without a valid registration, while a large number of children were kept without the orders from the Child Welfare Committees (CWC).

Speaking to ANI, NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo said: Prima facie we have recommended the state government to close five childcare homes and police inquiry or FIRs to be registered against 13 childcare homes.

There are homes built in isolated areas. There are children who have families, and yet they were not allowed to go back to their home, which is against the Juvenile Justice Act, said Kanoongo.

Inspections carried out in all 50 childcare homes in 19 districts of Odisha revealed that CWCs were not constituted in 10 homes, and there was no management committee in 13 shelter homes. Children living in four shelter homes were not even produced before respective CWCs, added Kanoongo.

During the inspection, the NCPCR team also came across a case registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, which showed that the hostel warden sexually abused a male child.

It was also found that in 14 childcare homes, the child helpline numbers were not displayed, and track the missing child programme was not implemented. No counselor was found in 27 homes, and a child care institution operating in Koraput district was found with a blank CWC letterhead.

With clear cases of violation of the juvenile justice system, NCPCR feels there is an immediate need for conducting further investigation, said Kanoongo.

It is worth mentioning that NCPCR's mandate is to ensure that all laws, policies, programmes, and administrative mechanisms are in consonance with the child rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The child is defined as a person in the zero to 18 years age group.


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