37 kids who left Arya home untraceable now

Orphanage says it is hard to keep track of those who leave

Out of the 70 children who “left” Arya orphanage since April 2012, 37 are still untraceable, said a report submitted by a government-appointed administrator in the High Court on July 11.

Delhi government had appointed an administrator to look into the affairs of Arya orphanage. The court had asked him to provide information regarding the number of children who had left the orphanage and their whereabouts beginning April 1.

“The report clearly says that the administrator is not able to trace 37 children as their addresses and phone numbers are incorrect. And the orphanage has claimed that the children’s parents and relatives had taken them away,” said Bharati Ali from Haq Centre for child rights.

“But where are they now and why cannot authorities locate them? It is highly unlikely that so many of them have shifted their homes,” said Bharati Ali.

During the hearing in March, the court had taken on record 13 suggestions handed out by Haq, through a letter which had requested the court to take the matter up as a public interest litigation.  

The letter by the NGO had sought court’s intervention in ensuring safety of children still living in the orphanage, which has been in the news for allegations of sexual abuse of children by inmates.

Ali asks who should be held accountable for this if not police. “FIRs should have been registered with police for these children who are now missing. Also, the administrator had informed the court that the orphanage did not inform him about these children leaving the place despite court’s directions,” she said.

Commenting on the administrator’s report, she alleged that it was contrary to an earlier report by judicial committee set up by the High Court. The committee’s report had said the orphanage had a “proper admission process”.

“It is evident from the report that the committee was misled by the orphanage authorities as the report submitted in court is incomplete. There are so many unanswered questions,” added Ali.

According to Haq, over 150 children have left the orphanage till date. Several children left because of abuse or beatings from wardens, alleged Ali on the basis of letters received by Haq from parents and children.

However, Nitin Chaudhary, secretary of Arya orphanage said it is impossible to keep a track of children who leave the orphanage as most of them are children of migrant labourers.

“How can I keep track of kids who move out from the institutions when the parents keep shifting from one place to the other? They are our responsibility till they stay with us and they were taken away by their parents and we did not force them to leave,” he said. He added that children have also signed their leave applications before moving out.

The court has asked the committee and administrator to provide a detailed and complete report during the next hearing.

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