Ranchi, Aug 24, 2018 : Human right activists gathered at a busy junction in Ranchi on August 21 to protest the death of two infants who were “rescued” from a Missionaries of Charity center by a Jharkhand government department.
“The two children died of dehydration within six weeks of them being forcibly removed from the Missionaries of Charity center,” Gopinath Ghosh, an activist associated with “Jan Awaz” (people’s voice), told Matters India on August 22.
Jan Awaz, an umbrella body for various human rights groups working in the eastern Indian state, organized the protest march at Albert Ekka Chawk.
The children, just six months old, died on August 19 at a center managed by Sahayog Village, an NGO favored by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), a Jharkhand government’s department, at Khunti district.
The two infants were among 22 children the CWC took away on July 6 from Nirmala Shishu Bhavan (Immaculate home for children), managed by the Mother Teresa nuns at Hinoo, a Ranchi suburb. Out of them, 12 children belonged to Khunti, some 35 km south of Ranchi.
The CWC raided the Teresa center in the wake of an alleged baby selling incident.
Ghosh said all the children were healthy when they were taken from the nuns. “But now we are told all of them are sick, seriously affecting their growth,” he added. A “Jan Awaz” press release alleges that the children are suffering from malnutrition and diarrhea.
The Khunti CWC identified one of the deceased infants as the six-month-old as Palo Tuti. The other child is yet to be identified.
“Both the babies were ill and we admitted them to a hospital couple of days back. But, they could not survive and died on Sunday. Hospital authorities said that they died due to prolonged illness,” the Hindustan Times quoted Khunti deputy development commissioner C K Mandal as saying.
He said the administration has set up a medical team to investigate into exact cause of the death. “We have also set up a three-member magisterial team to probe into incident,” Mandal added.
The Sahyog Village management has held the CWC responsible for the deaths. Its founder identified only as Dr Manjeet said they have license to keep only 10 children, but the CWC dumped 12 more children on them in July. “I even requested CWC member Baidyanath Kumar to hand the children over to their parents at the earliest. They identified the parents, but did not hand the babies over,” he added.
Palo’s father Pyaran Tuti, a resident of Rurki village under Saiko police station, and other parents said they had approached the CWC several times demanding their children but returned empty handed.
Tuti, a single parent, said, “Few people came to my house on Sunday night and asked me to go with them to see my daughter. When I reached the shelter home, I found my daughter was dead.” He said the officials later dropped him back to his village along with his daughter’s body.
Social rights activist Mary Tirkey, who fights for the cause of rescued children, said: “On July 14, nine parents were given their children by Ranchi CWC along with a letter. The letter says the children are being transferred to Khunti CWC. As per the letter, parents handed over the children to CWC. Instead of giving the children, the members asked the parents to go. The CWC members said health checkup of the children is required. But, parents were not given their children till date.”
Some parents have also filed a petition in the high court seeking its intervention to get their children back.
Ghosh said, “We provided legal assistance to the parents to file the petition about 10 days back. We are expecting its first hearing in a week.”