3 officials suspended in Bhopal children’s home case; missing girls safe, says Madhya Pradesh CM

After the matter came to light, Bhopal District Collector Kaushlendra Vikram Singh and Bhopal Divisional Commissioner Pawan Kumar Sharma ordered suspension of the three officials

Published - January 06, 2024 10:33 pm IST - Bhopal 

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav. | Photo Credit: ANI

Three officials of the Madhya Pradesh’s Women and Child Department were suspended and two were issued showcause notices after a children’s home was found running illegally on the outskirts of Bhopal. 

At least 27 girls were also said to be missing from the centre but Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mohan Yadav said later in the day that all the girls were safe.

An FIR has also been filed against the children’s home and its manager, identified as Anil Mathew, under Sections 42 and 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, at the Parwaliya police station.

After a surprise inspection of the Anchal Children’s Home in Bhopal’s Tarasewaniya village on January 4, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) found that the home was being run illegally as a ChildLine centre without registration and recognition from the government, said NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo in a letter to State Chief Secretary Veera Rana on January 5. 

In the letter, Mr. Kanoongo also said that the NCPCR team found only 41 of the total 68 girls enrolled at the centre. 

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Kanoongo that he and his team were acting based on a tip-off and alleged that several other ChildLine centres in the State were being run “illegally and involved in various malpractices”. “At this centre in Tarasewaniya, the management was involved in malpractices such as getting the girl inmates to practise Christianity and keeping orphan girls, even from other districts,” he said. He said he had also demanded that IPC Section 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave) be added to the case. 

A police officer at the Parwaliya police station, however, told The Hindu that the matter was currently under investigation and that any “serious charges like those of slavery will be added based on evidence”.

After the matter came to light, Bhopal District Collector Kaushlendra Vikram Singh and Bhopal Divisional Commissioner Pawan Kumar Sharma ordered suspension of the three officials, including a district supervisor.  

Mr. Singh also said on X that the NGO had also not informed the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) after rescuing the girls. 

Taking to X, Mr. Yadav promised strict action against those responsible for any mismanagement. 

Mr. Kanoongo blamed the mismanagement of the centres on the State Government’s decision to outsource them to NGOs. “In many other States, the governments are running the centres themselves or have their officials supervising them,” he said.

The NCPCR is likely to approach the judiciary if the State Government does not pay heed to its request that the centres should be run by the District Child Protection Unit as per the standard operating procedures (SOP) issued by Union Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Earlier, former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also asked the government to take immediate action in the matter.  “The case of disappearance of 26 girls from a children’s home operating without permission in Parwalia police station area of ​​Bhopal has come to my notice. Considering the seriousness and sensitivity of the matter, I urge the government to take cognisance and take immediate action,” he wrote on X.

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