Three Manipuri siblings who were allegedly trafficked by their maternal aunt after the death of their mother and sent to an institution in Uttar Pradesh where they were made to work under pitiable, inhuman and unhygienic conditions for almost six years will finally board a flight back to their native place on Tuesday for a happy reunion with their family. The victims' aunt is still at large.

The matter came to light when the victims' father lodged a complaint with the District Programme Officer in Manipur, alleging that his two minor sons and a minor daughter had been sold to an institution for exploitation. After the death of his first wife in 2004, her elder sister took the siblings away promising to provide them better education and got them admitted to the institution at Motipur in U.P.

On several occasions, the father tried to contact his sister-in-law and the institution to know the progress of his children, but in vain. He then visited the institution in November-December last year and was shocked to discover that his children had been kept in a pitiable condition, in a fearsome environment. The shabbily clothed siblings had forgotten their mother tongue and instead could communicate only in Hindi. The father tried to take the children along, but the institution officials refused citing rules.

The father, with the help of a distant relative, then managed to get the children out of the place and came to the Capital. Subsequently non-government organisation Shakti Vahini and then the Delhi Police were roped in on April 7. It came to light that then an employee with the same institution, the maternal aunt -- who had allegedly taken Rs.13,000 from the father for expenses on the children's education -- had kept the girl child at her residence for two years as a domestic help and babysitter.

Recognising it as a case of trafficking, the Lajpat Nagar Child Welfare Committee during a hearing on Monday pulled up the institution for having ill-treated the children. The committee said had the institution been registered and licenced under the Juvenile Justice Act, its activities could be monitored properly.

In an earlier order, the committee cited a Supreme Court directive stating that “The State of Manipur and Assam are directed to ensure that no child below the age of 12 years or those at primary school level are sent outside to pursue education to other States until further orders.”

Having confirmed that the father had the wherewithal to take care of the children, the CWC transferred their custody to a Manipur CWC for further verification before granting their custody to the father, thus paving the way for their journey back home.

Were allegedly trafficked by their maternal aunt after the death of their mother

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