The Opposition walked out of the Assembly on Monday, accusing the government of ‘abetting child trafficking’ under the cover of certain orphanages in the State.
Deputy leader of the Opposition Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, giving notice for an adjournment motion over the issue of children brought a fortnight ago from Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal to certain orphanages in Palakkad and Kozhikode districts without proper documents, told the House that the incident exposed the Social Welfare Department’s inability to check irregularities in the orphanages.
He said the State police and also the Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi had described this as a case of ‘human trafficking.’ He wanted to know why the Social Welfare Department was shy of using the same expression to describe the incident and “whom the department is protecting.”
Social Welfare Minister M.K. Muneer said many orphanages in the State were not having their records in proper order in the past. It was only in 2013 that the government, through an amendment to the relevant Act, brought in the stipulation that children housed in orphanages should have their documents in proper order.
He said the government had now constituted a three-member committee that would visit all orphanages and look into irregularities, if any, in their functioning. He told the House that the children brought to Kerala from other States without the requisite certificates were being sent back to their home places under the supervision of the Child Welfare Committees of Palakkad and Kozhikode districts.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said many orphanages in the State were doing yeoman service to the poor and the destitute. It would be an injustice to condemn them all. He said procedural lapses should be corrected.
Not satisfied with the government’s reply, Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan announced the Opposition walkout alleging that the government’s effort was to oversimplify a very serious issue, rather than get to the root of the whole thing and act against the wrongdoers.
Keywords: child trafficking