Commission asks State to intensify their search for children in distress

Uttarakhand Government’s claim of having found only one orphan child in the recent devastation has come under serious criticism from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). The Commission has asked the State Government to immediately consolidate and submit a list of missing and orphaned children and those needing care, protection and rehabilitation.

NCPCR Chairperson Kushal Singh, while speaking to The Hindu on Saturday (after her visit to the State), said: “Our team visited Uttarakhand and spoke with the Minister and State officials seeking information on the number of children affected by this recent calamity. We were told that so far there is only one orphaned child (a three-year-old girl), who is under treatment at a Dehradun hospital. We expressed our concern at this number and have asked the State Government to intensify their search for children in distress and needing help.’’

“The Uttarakhand Government also told us that several pockets of the State continue to be inaccessible, which has hampered rescue and rehabilitation of the children in these areas and that the number of children affected could be much higher. The State Government has been told that rescue and rehabilitation has to go hand-in-hand that one cannot be isolated from the other,’’ added Ms. Singh.

The Commission has also asked for a list of missing children in the tragedy.

“We understand that the State Government is still trying to collate the position of missing people, including children. According to them, the same people have lodged missing complaints in two or three places. They have assured us that they will provide us with the exact data of missing persons by Monday,’’ noted Ms. Singh.

Speaking about NCPCR’s concern about child trafficking from the State following the devastation, Ms. Singh said: “During our visit, we met the State police chief to seek information about the measures put in place to ensure that children are not trafficked and we were assured that anti-trafficking units have been activated in all the affected districts and special instructions have been given for vigilance in the matter. Children are among the most vulnerable population under such circumstances and we have also written to the State Government suggesting that stringent measures have to be put in place to ensure that children remain safe.’’

Meanwhile, the Commission has instructed the State Government to ensure that they immediately implement the Integrated Child Protection Scheme meant especially for children in need and care.

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