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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: After carrying out inspections at various shelter homes in the State based on the allegations of sexual harassment and illegal religious conversion, member of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Yashwant Jain today said that Odisha government has not followed guidelines on protection of children at shelter homes strictly.

This apart, he stated that the concerned officials do not have mapping or proper data on where actually the shelter homes are running. This shows their lackadaisical and negligent attitude towards the children staying in shelter homes and other hostels, he said.

“Odisha government has not followed guidelines on protection of children at shelter homes strictly. A year ago, we had recommended Odisha Chief Secretary and State WCD Minister through a letter, to implement a few things at the shelter homes. But I am utterly disappointed with the way the concerned departments have mishandled things here. Be it installation of CCTVs, training of shelter home in-charges or providing knowledge to children on POCSO and other laws, I am shocked to see that no guidelines have been followed strictly.”

Speaking on the shelter home run by ‘Good News India’ NGO in Beltikri of Dhenkanal district, Jain said that the particular hostel does not come under the Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act). Unfortunately, there are no such guidelines for private-run hostels but we had to fix certain guidelines so that minor children living in these ashrams will not face any problems.

The officials do not have any proper data to ascertain the details of shelter homes and ashram schools run by private agencies. After an inspection today, we have directed the department officials to follow guidelines and carry out a detailed probe into all the incidents, he added.

Reportedly, a team comprising two members of NCPCR and two of OSCPCR conducted an inspection and later held discussions with the district collectors, DCPOs and the CWCs. The NCPCR team will submit the probe report to the Centre after a detailed investigation, sources said.

It may be noted here that Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi on December 8 had ordered a probe by the Secretary of the Ministry into allegations of sexual abuse of minor girls in Dhenkanal shelter home and submit a report. This apart, she had directed NCPCR officials to inspect all the shelter homes immediately and submit a report about their functioning.

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