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State in a fix: Who to hand over children to?

State in a fix: Who to hand over children to?

State in a fix: Who to hand over children to?

ADITI TANDON IN THE TRIBUNE

Even as investigations are on into the modus operandi of Superna Sethi, who ran the now shut Gurgaon shelter home where minors were sexually abused for over a year, the district administration today faced an altogether new challenge. “Who should the children be handed over to?” was the question that baffled the state government authorities, which met here today to discuss the way forward for around 19 girls that resided in the shelter home in Wazirabad.

After reports of exploitation of children came out, parents of at least five girls turned up at the meeting called by Gurgaon’s Deputy Commissioner today to seek custody of their children. None of them however had the proof that children belonged to them.

“Unless we know for a fact that the child being pointed to is the biological child of the parent concerned, we can’t hand him or her over to that parent. We have ordered a full fledged home verification of each child to ensure they don’t land in unsafe hands,” the district authorities told The Tribune. The social activists who are part of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights team probing the case today said the predicament was strange and unheard of.

“This is what happens when you allow systems to run without any modicum of monitoring. The owner of the shelter home was housing children in an ad hoc manner. She has no proof of which child belongs to whom. Tomorrow if children were to go missing from this place, there would be no accountability of anyone. Parents who came today were returned because they could not furnish any proof of the children belonging to them. In the absence of proof, the state is obliged to keep the children,” said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini.

The children have now been housed in another Gurgaon shelter home called ‘Aarushi’ run by the Salam Balak Trust.

ADITI TANDON IN THE TRIBUNE

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