Child trafficking in Kerala – updates

published on June 1, 2014
The case of suspected trafficking of around 600 children from Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal into Kerala by Muslim orphanages in the State has triggered a political row. The State Home Minister has termed the episode as illegal. But Muslim outfits seem to cover up, by terming it ‘social service’. Evidences however seem to point more towards human trafficking.

The incident took a political turn when BJP’s national executive member Sobha Surendran petitioned the Union Child Welfare Ministry regarding the suspected child-trafficking. Muslim League and other Muslim outfits have sprung to the defence of the incident, claiming that the children were being brought to be put up in reputed orphanages in Kerala.  

A five-member team of officials from Jharkhand, who visited Palakkad on Sunday, said that the incident had all the signs of child-trafficking. “The Jharkhand Government is providing children with free education and boarding. Why should they opt to leave the State in this manner? Our Government has taken this as a serious matter. There will be further inquiries,” said an official.

An inspection was conducted by Deputy Inspector General of Police S Sreejith, Nodal Officer of Kerala State Human Rights Commission at the Muslim Orphanage in Mukkom, Kozhikode on Sunday. It was to this orphanage the first batch of 456 children was brought from the other States. He seemed to be in agreement with the Jharkhand officials.

“The incident could be defined as human trafficking,” said Sreejith. “Orphanage authorities had not fulfilled the mandatory requirements while bringing the children, adding that a decision on sending the children back would be taken if necessary,” he added. The children are currently under the care of an orphanage in Palakkad.

The case came to light when Railway Protection Force of Palakkad detained 589 children belonging to the age group of 4-to-14 on May 22 as they were being brought to Kerala. It was revealed that these children were being taken to orphanages run by Muslim outfits in Kozhikode and Malappuram. Eight people were arrested on the charge of suspected human trafficking.
The four arrested persons in connection with the trafficking of 466 children from Jharkhand and Bihar were identified as Abdul Khader Ansari, 32, son of Ghose from Chasanagar in Bihar, Mohammed Alangir, 24, son of Mohammed Ibrahim from Bhaska in Bihar, Mohammed Eidothalam, 30, son of Mohammed Bhadarudheen from Viswasani post in Jharkhand and Moulana Faisalullah, 26, son of Mohammed Ansarullah from Bhagalpur in Bihar. The other four persons arrested in connection with the transportation of 124 children from West Bengal were Mansoor,32, Bakker, 30, Dost Mohammed and Jabir, all natives of West Bengal.

According to sources, almost 336 children did not have valid travel tickets. On investigation, it was found that the people who brought them also did not possess the required official papers issued by the respective State Governments that was necessary before taking them to another state. Some of these children have been taken back to their homes by their parents, with the incident sparking off a controversy.

As per the circular (OCB 1/17257/12) issued by the Orphanage Control Board (OCB) on 26 October 2013, orphanage authorities should possess certificates granting permission to accommodate orphans, both from the state government (the state from where they are exported) and the OCB. Even if the orphanages possess these certificates, children from other states are not entitled to receive any grants from the government. However, with grants coming in as lakhs of rupees from the government by portraying these children as belonging to Kerala, the practice is reported to be wide. The LFAD report also flays the Social Justice Department for granting funds to such orphanages without verifying authenticity of their applications.

A  report published by the Local Fund Audit Department(LFA) reveals that orphanages have been trafficking children from other states to Kerala, with the aim of taking undue advantage of government grants by flouting norms. With the matter being brought to light, the Railway police have arrested 8 persons in connection with the alleged child trafficking.

The norms of the Orphanage Control Board (OCB) clearly lay down stipulated procedures to be followed while accommodating children from outside the state. However, these stood widely neglected. The report also makes it clear that children from outside the state are not eligible for any grants from the state government.

However, according to a report, it has been stated that these orphanages have been siphoning off crores of rupees from the government each year, by doctoring documents to claim that these children belonged to Kerala. The orphanages are allegedly bringing children from poor families in other states to their institutions with two major motives-
to get government grants and to use them to show the strength of  students in their schools so that they won’t lose divisions.

The matter is reportedly gravest in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts. Other orphanages across Kerala are also reported to be minting money using these hapless children.

While the 466 children were being brought by the Mukkam Muslim orphanage, another 124 children were brought for an orphanage in Vettathoor in Malappuram. Of the eight persons arrested, three are from Bihar, four from West Bengal and one from Jharkhand. They have been charged under section 370(5) of the Indian Penal code. Of the 466 children who were detained on Sunday, 183 were transferred to the Child Welfare Committee in Kozhikode.

The Chairman of the Child Welfare Committee, Jose Paul, said that 165 girls have been transferred to the Providence Home in Malampuzha and 124 boys to the Palakkad orphanage in Pezhunkara. They were the remaining children of the first 466 batch of children who arrived from Bihar and Jharkhand.

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