Odisha shelter homes shame: NHRC seeks ATR

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Odisha shelter homes shame: NHRC seeks ATR

Thursday, 27 December 2018 | PNS | BHUBANESWAR

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought an action-taken report (ATR) from the Chief Secretary of Odisha over the illegal shelter homes, within four weeks.

Acting on a petition filed by Supreme Court lawyer and rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy, the apex human rights panel passed the order.

For a couple of years, the inmates of shelter home, the Good News India Dream Centre, at Beltikiri in Dhenkanal district subjected its inmates to sexual abuse, harassment and rights violation. The Dhenkanal police had no clue about what was happening there despite the fact that it was running without registration since 2015. The illegal shelter home which was operating in blatant violation of the Juvenile Justice Act, Tripathy said in his petition.

The District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) had issued closure notice to the shelter home in 2015 for not complying with the guidelines of the Juvenile Justice Act and had even repatriated the inmates to their respective districts. However, the shelter home continued its illegal operations right under the nose of the district administration. Had the officials concerned cared to carry out inspections at regular intervals, the abuse would not have taken place, Tripathy said.

In Rayagada, the NGO was running a shelter home near Siriguda area where 76 girls were lodged. It has been operating for the last nine years. Rayagada has at least 80 shelter homes or hostels and a majority of them are running without complying the norms and parameters of JJ Act, RTE Act and other acts applicable to the welfare of the minor children, the petitioner said.

Women and Child Development Minister Prafulla Samal informed that the institution was unregistered and running illegally. Tripathy contended that if the Minister was aware of the developments, then why he could not take action against the erring institution for years. According to Department of Women and Child Development, there are 300 recognised child care institutions in the State. Good News India Dream Centre has registered child care shelter homes in Mayurbhanj, Kalahandi, Deogarh and Baleswar districts. However, the authorities had denied permission to the organisation for running the institute in 2015. The main registration of the centre is believed to be in West Bengal.

Tripathy complained that there are illegal conversions of the children from one religion to another and violation of child rights in the shelter homes.

He requested the NHRC to constitute a team of officials headed by the DIG of the NHRC for a thorough investigation of the entire episode and direct the State administration to find out total number of unregistered shelter homes/Ashrams or any institutions with different nomenclature running in Odisha, investigate in detail whether such institutions have been complying with the provisions of  Societies Registration Act, Indian trust Act, conversion laws, JJ Act, RTE Act and other laws related to children and take legal action against the errant officials and rehabilitate the victims with counseling, alternative arrangements with compensation.

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