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June 5, 2006

Challenged boy ‘homeless’ as officials pass the buck

From: Delhi Newsline, India - Jun 5, 2006

Found by a social worker, 13-year-old refused by Childline and Child Welfare Committee


New Delhi, June 5: The case of a 13-year-old deaf-and-dumb boy, who is being shuttled between various private shelters even though the Capital has 14 government homes, underlines the travails of destitute children at the hands of the administration.

The boy was found at Old Delhi Railway Station on June 1 by Aditya Kumar, a social worker with Pratidhi. When Aditya contacted Childline, it allegedly refused to take the boy in on the ground that the caller was from an NGO, and ‘‘not a concerned citizen’’.

The helpline officials instead gave the contact number of a private child care centre in Gopalpur, said Aditya. The private centre, however, refused to give a document of receipt required to prove that the boy had been put up there for the night, he said.

On June 2, Pratidhi activists took the boy to the Child Welfare Committee at Kingsway Camp. The NGO alleged the Committee refused to take the child, in contravention of the Juvenile Justice Act, ‘‘which states that a child in need of care and protection is to be immediately given care and protection’’.

CWC officials, however, denied this charge. ‘‘The boy was never produced in front of the Committee. Moreover, the Pratidhi member who appeared was rude to the Committee chairman,’’ said CWC member Randhir Kashyap.

Raj Mangal Prasad of Pratidhi, however, said, ‘‘The CWC refused his custody saying any rescued child is to be produced before the Committee under whose jurisdiction the NGO is located.’’

‘‘This ground is clearly irrelevant as NGOs operate and rescue children across the city,’’ he added. Moreover, the Mayur Vihar CWC, under which Pratidhi is located, does not have a shelter of its own.

Meanwhile, the boy is being put up with Pratidhi members and at temporary shelters until he is produced before CWC, Mayur Vihar.

© 2006 Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Ltd.