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National Commission for Scheduled Tribes issues warrant of arrest against Maharashtra officials over child-selling racket

Given that the officials had failed to appear before the Commission, the court officer of NCST said that the commission was exercising its powers as a civil court.

January 23, 2023 11:23 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:12 am IST - New Delhi

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has issued a warrant of arrest for the production of District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police of Nashik and Ahmednagar districts of Maharashtra for failing to appear before it in a case linked to the sale of children from the Katkari community, a Scheduled Tribe. 

According to the warrant of arrest issued to the Maharashtra Director-General of Police, Gangadharan D., District Magistrate and Collector, Nashik; Rajendra B. Bhosale, District Magistrate and Collector, Ahmednagar; Rakesh Ola, Superintendent of Police, Ahmednagar; and Shahaji Umap, Superintendent of Police, Nashik Rural, were summoned to be present before the NCST Chairperson in early January. 

Given that the officials had failed to appear before the Commission, the court officer of NCST said that the commission was exercising its powers as a civil court and thus directing the DGP of the state to arrest them and produce them before it by February 1. 

The case pertains to several news reports revealing that children from the Katkari community in Igatpuri taluka were bought and sold for ₹5,000 and one sheep each. The commission had taken suo motu cognisance of the reports and initiated an inquiry into the matter, noting that the racket came to light only after the death of one girl of Nashik district, following which investigations had revealed that as many as 30 children were bought and sold similarly. 

While the commission noted that the police had registered multiple cases in relation to these instances and made a few arrests, not all cases were registered as FIRs in police stations.

The commission noted that district authorities had sent them an action taken report over the incident, outlining what they had done in the case of the child who was found dead. 

According to sources aware of developments, the commission is looking to find out why the police have not added Sections under the Prevention of Atrocities (SC/ST) Act, 2016 and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1983. Further, the commission is insisting on action taken reports with respect to other similar incidents reported in the press and as to what specific actions are being taken to prevent such incidents in future. 

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