NCPCR finds misuse of funds by 6 childcare institutions in Assam, Manipur

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New Delhi, Dec 25 (PTI) Apex child rights body NCPCR on Friday said it has found misuse of funds by six childcare institutions in Assam and Manipur, running under the aegis of Markazul Maarif, of which one home received funding from an international NGO that is being probed for its alleged links with Al-Qaeda.

The commission said that as per the information made available to the inspection team, 778 children were residing in these homes. However, according to the information in the bio of MP Maulana Badrudin Ajmal (who established these homes) on the Lok Sabha website, these homes house 1,010 children.

There was no immediate reaction to the queries made to Ajmal.

'The website of Markazul Maarif also states that it is housing 1,080 children. Therefore, there is a discrepancy in the number of children disclosed by these homes to the inspection team and that available on the website of the Markazul Maarif. It is important to investigate this discrepancy and find out the status of these 300 children,' it said.

The inspection team was also informed that funds were being received from an international NGO IHH by one of the homes.

'The team found a list of children who were the beneficiaries under this said project. A list of children prepared in 2017 was also found and these children were also sponsored by this organization IHH. As per available information, this Turkey-based NGO, IHH, had been interrogated by the Turkish Law Enforcement Agencies for their alleged links with Al-Qaeda,' the report said.

Moreover, the commission said it is also apprehensive about the details of children which must have been provided to this international NGO.

The NCPCR further said that nearly 300 children of these homes were unaccounted for and it is important to investigate their status.

'In light of these serious observations made by the inspection team and further the inquiry of NCPCR in this matter, it is strongly recommended that an investigation by the NIA must be initiated to inquire into all these issues...,' it said.

According to the inspection report of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) submitted to the Manipur and Assam governments, violation of several norms under the Juvenile Justice Act were found during the inspection carried between December 14 to 18.

Clogged and unhygienic toilets, lack of security for girls, use of corporal punishment with bamboo sticks were some of the key findings in the report shared with PTI.

During the inspection, it was found that these homes had not developed a child protection policy and did not institute the following mechanisms for prevention and protection of children from abuse. Some homes had not even installed CCTVs.

'Bamboo sticks were found which were used for corporal punishment to discipline children. During informal discussions with staff members, it came out that sometimes they had to employ corporal punishment to discipline particularly difficult children.

'As there was no written child protection policy found in these homes and corporal punishment was used to discipline the children, these homes are in violation of Section 75 and Section 82 of JJ Act, 2015,' the report said.

One child informed the inspection team that he has been beaten by these sticks, the NCPCR said, recommending registration of FIR against those committing such a serious offence.

In addition to these observations, in one of the homes, the male staff from boys' home were found roaming inside the girls' home and going inside their dormitories.

'This was observed to pose a great security issue for girls staying in the home which would make them vulnerable to abuse,' the report said.

The inspection team also found that three childcare institutions were not registered.

'FIR against each home needs to be registered under Section 42 and 75 of JJ Act, 2015,' it said. The inspection was carried out on a complaint received by the NCPCR.

'Keeping in view the serious allegations made against these homes, the NCPCR sent a letter to chairperson, Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and chairperson, Manipur State Commission for Protection of Child Rights on December 8, 2020.

'In the said letter, NCPCR requested the SCPCR's to constitute an inspection team and conduct an immediate inspection of these homes. To assist the team of SCPCRs in the inspection of these homes, two consultants from NCPCR also visited these homes for conducting an inspection and verifying the true and correct state of affairs in these children homes,' the NCPCR said in its report. PTI UZM AAR AAR