New Delhi: Missing, found, and missing again – this is the official status of 11 children rescued from a city brothel in 2015, as heard by the Delhi High Court.
These kids, between 4 and 13 years of age, were allegedly handed over to some unidentified members of the public who introduced themselves as their parents.
But authorities now suspect that the adults were in fact not the children’s parents as they are now unable to trace the children. The Delhi State Legal Services Authority has challenged the order of a city child welfare committee, saying due process was not followed and has sought an inquiry.
The high court has issued a notice to the state, the child welfare panel and the child care homes that had kept the children with them.
Thousands of kids go missing every year – often abducted for sexual exploitation – and are never found.
On June 22, 2015, 56-year-old Anita, a social activist working for the welfare and rehabilitation of the children of sex workers at Delhi’s GB Road, rescued 11 kids from the brothel on the request of women claiming to be their mothers.
These kids were produced before the CWC in Lajpat Nagar. Of these 11 kids, five were minor boys and six minor girls. Seven children were sent to Jyoti Home and the three boys were sent to Ummeed Aman.
Six days later, the alleged mothers appeared before the CWC with a number of unidentified men and demanded to take the children back.
The DLSA in the petition says that till the time the children were restored with the parents, these women kept coming to the committee daily and created a commotion.
‘The Lajpat Nagar police was also informed about the ruckus but did not take action,’ the plea said.
The ‘parents’ said they were victims of the 2015 Nepal quakes and moved here after their houses were destroyed. While the restoration was still underway, legal services advocate Anuradha Vashisht had submitted objections before the CWC Lajpat Nagar, highlighting certain discrepancies.
‘The interaction with the children revealed that they were brought from Nepal at the time of quake; their nationality is yet to be verified.
‘Bringing kids from Nepal, keeping them in brothel, asking their custody within a period of one month shows something is very wrong in the matter.
‘Keeping kids in NGO was pre-planned to keep children in a safe place. It seems that the children were kidnapped for some ill motive,’ said Vashisht in her report.
The report which was accessed by Mail Today revealed that the address of the children during the rescue was GB Road. However, the address mentioned in the child restoration form is: Majnuka- tilla, Punjabi Basti, Civil Lines, Delhi.
The mother’s name is different at the time of seeking protection and claiming custody.
Child rights activist and advocate Anant Kumar Asthana says that returning a child to his or her parents is not always a fool-proof process.
When a child is handed over to a parent, regular visits to the kid’s home are made for next two years. DLSA alleged that when the time came for the follow-up visits, it turned out that the children could not be traced.
‘Restoration of children is carried out casually across the country, largely because child welfare committees lack required degree of procedural and functional competence,’ said Asthana.