Over 100 children forced to stay in a floor with a hall and two bedrooms and without toilet. Mentally ill and sick children mingling freely in the hall in filthy conditions. These were the scenes that unfolded before the officials of the Social Welfare Department and Kochi Corporation at an apartment in Vaduthala, which housed the kids along with mentally unstable persons in same building.

The plight of the students and other inmates of the house were exposed following a visit by Essy Joseph, the chairperson of the Welfare Standing Committee of the Kochi Corporation, along with some of the civic officials.

The visit was for verifying the veracity of the application for educational support of students, which the nun, who was running the house, had submitted. The application was for supporting 73 students. The inspection revealed that no school was run from the house. Each year, the civic body spends around Rs. 10,000 for supporting the education of such kids, she said.

Around 15 children below the age of 6, including some mentally challenged ones, were in the house with just one person in charge of them. Three kids, of age ranging between six months and one year, were also found residing in the house. The only toilet available for the kids was downstairs. Though the nun claimed to have obtained registration for rehabilitating beggars, she didn’t possess any permit for running a school, Ms. Joseph said.

No one knows how the kids reached the house. On questioning, the nun stated that police had handed over the kids to her. The police should handover kids and destitute to the State-run agencies and not private ones, Ms. Joseph said.

The Kochi Corporation will approach the Social Welfare Department and the State authorities demanding an exclusive helpline and role in the management of such homes in the city limits, she said.

“The District Social Welfare Department will recommend to the district Collector to order legal action against those who were running the home invoking the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act. Action will also be recommended invoking the laws which deals with atrocities against women,” said G. Ramesh, District Social Welfare Officer.

Majority of the inmates were non-Keralites. Inspections revealed that 20 mentally challenged persons were locked in a room. Some inmates didn’t have proper clothing too. The Child Welfare Committee had also been alerted about the developments, he said.

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