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Orphanages, women & children’s homes, NGOs, hospitals come under increased scrutiny

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CS directs SWD to do 5 year audit of all orphanages, ashrams

Jammu: Chief Secretary Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta Thursday chaired a high level meeting to review the progress made in nabbing the culprits involved in alleged adoption and sale of Covid orphans in Pampore, besides the administrative measures taken by the Social Welfare Department and the law-enforcement agencies to prevent such incidents in future.

Administrative Secretary, Home, Special Director General, CID, Administrative Secretaries of Social Welfare and Law Departments, two Divisional commissioners and DIG, Central Kashmir Range and other senior officers attended the meeting, an official press release informed.

While informing that two persons have been arrested, DIG CKR informed that the investigation under a DSP rank officer is going on and it is expected that in about a week’s time, the department will be able to get to the bottom of the case.

Asserting that the trafficking of children and women is an inhuman practice and is absolutely unacceptable, the Chief Secretary stressed that there should be zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and forced labour and added that the government will pull out all stops in ridding the UT of this menace.

He also stated that “human trafficking almost always has a narco/drug dimension, which has been seen to have linkages with terrorism in the UT”.

Expressing concern at the incident, Dr Mehta directed that joint teams of Social Welfare, Education department, Magistrates from DC office and police be set up to verify the records of ‘nari ashrams’ (women’s homes), ‘bal ashrams’ (children’s home), NGOs and trusts and orphanages and asked the Social Welfare Department to coordinate the synergised departmental response in the matter.

Secretary, Social Welfare Department informed that the matter has been taken up with IGP Kashmir to ensure immediate legal action under the relevant laws.

It was further informed that child welfare committees have been asked to meet Covid orphans identified by the department and submit a report to the department.

Dr Mehta directed Social Welfare Department to conduct audit of the human resource and the accounts of these centres for the last five years, the press release said.

He asked the Social Welfare Department to obtain the report regarding the welfare of Covid orphans from the field and share it with his office by Thursday evening.

The Chief Secretary also asked the Home department to ensure that every such centre was inspected by the nearest police station in the UT and a report shared by them with the Home department by evening.

Giving details of the NGOs dealing with child and women welfare in the UT, Director I&C, Jammu informed that there are around 6000 such NGOs registered in J&K.

It was further informed that post reorganisation of the J&K State into UTs of J&K and Ladakh, the department has begun the process of re-registering these societies under the central act.

So far less than 1000 societies have been re-registered and their details are also available on Darpan portal.

Dr Mehta also advised the I&C department to share the list of all NGOs operating in the space with SWD and Police department.

He also directed that the SWD should get the verification of 6000 NGOs done in concert with district administration and PRIs within a month and share the findings with the government.

The Chief Secretary asked the I&C department to put all those NGOs, which have not re-registered, on notice stating that if they do not re-register within 15 days,  they will no longer be allowed to operate.

He also directed I&C department to share the details of those NGOs which don’t re-register with the district and divisional administration so that appropriate law-enforcement action is initiated against them.

The Chief Secretary asked the SWD to take steps in consultation with health department to verify all the children hospitals/gynecological sections/neonatal sections of the hospitals in the UT within next 15 days.

Dr Mehta directed Law department to seek details of the trusts operating in the space for the last 10 years from the judiciary for purpose of their verification.

The Chief Secretary laid emphasis on tracking cases of child/women trafficking in the cyber domain and asked the Home department to ensure proper cyber surveillance though anti-trafficking units of the Police department in both the divisions.

Stating that begging and trafficking syndicates can’t be allowed to have a free run in J&K, he directed to maintain special watch on placement agencies, organisations scouting young girls and boys for talent hunt programmes, beauty pageants, escort services, etc.,  so that incidents of child and women trafficking do not happen in future.

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