Jaipur: The Rajasthan government rescued 49 children, including 27 girls, from illegal confinement at two illegal child shelter homes in the state capital, officials said Wednesday.
The children, all aged between five and 12 years, were kept confined in shelter homes which were not registered with government agencies. A man claiming to be a pastor was arrested by police, officials said. The raids were carried out Tuesday.
A senior officer of the Rajasthan State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (RCPCR) told IANS that raids were carried out with the help of some non-government organisations in Mansarovar and Jawahar Circle areas of the city.
"An NGO had been approached by the family of a girl who earlier lived in the Mansarovar-situated child shelter home. They complained about this shelter home where a girl had taken ill while living there, and was handed over to her parents in Manipur. The girl later died at her parents' home," the officer said.
He added that the house was run under the name of "Grace Home".
"When we entered the house, we found 27 girls and two boys. They were confined to their rooms. We found several empty liquor bottles. The food in the kitchen was rotten," the officer said.
The police detained a man identified as Jacob John, who claims to be a pastor, the officer added.
"John said the children's shelter had been operating for 10 years. It was, however, never registered under the Juvenile Justice Act," said the officer. Such registration is mandatory for the running of a children's shelter.
John said the children came from poor families across the country. Among them were children from Punjab, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Chhattisgarh.
"John claims that parents leave children there willingly. However, we have come to know that these children were not being sent to school. They were being imparted knowledge pertaining to a particular religion," the officer said.
A neighbour, asking she not be named, said she had never seen the children outside the home.
"Even on occasions like Holi and Diwali, all the children in neighbourhood gathered at the community park, but no one from this shelter home ever participated in such functions. These children don't come out even in the evenings to play with other children," the neighbour said.
The RCPCR officer added that these children were made to do all the domestic chores themselves.
"We are investigating why these liquor bottles were lying around," the officer said.
John told investigators about another shelter home in Jawahar Circle area.
"A RCPCR team raided another house and rescued 20 boys from that house also late Tuesday night. The police have rounded up some persons from that shelter home too. Further investigation is on," the officer said.