If a rescued child is taken to the government’s rehabilitation centre after office hours, in all probability she/he will not be admitted, going by recent instances.

On Sunday, a two-and-half-year-old boy found abandoned at a bus-stand was rescued by volunteers of BOSCO, a city-based NGO working with street children. After counselling and therapy, the boy was taken to Shishu Mandir, the government home for children. However, he was refused admission on the grounds that it was “too late”.

The volunteers, nonplussed, requested the officials to admit the boy and even called up the higher-ups of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) but to no avail. The officials bluntly told them to bring the boy back the next day during office hours. “They told us we had neither got a medical examination done on the boy nor filed a complaint with the jurisdictional police,” said a BOSCO volunteer. The boy was brought back to BOSCO and admitted to the government children’s home on Monday.

Since the inception of the government’s CWC nine years ago, no Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has been set up on do’s and don’ts for rescue workers, social worker P.N. Basavaraj, who was part of the rescue operation, told The Hindu.

Though the CWC has proposed a session to train volunteers for the last two years, nothing has been done so far, he said.

“Due to the absence of SOP, everything depends on the whims and fancies of officials. This is not only discouraging, but also violates the Juvenile Justice Act,” said another volunteer.

Under the Juvenile Justice Act, a person can take a child to the CWC at any point of time for admission since the rescue operations happen round the clock. But some of the staff in the CWC give excuses, the volunteer added.

Leena Kallapanavar, superintendent of Shishu Mandir refused to comment. “The committee is having a weekly meeting on Tuesday where this problem is going to be discussed,” she said. CWC Chairperson Meena Jain was unavailable for comment.

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