NEW DELHI: With suspicions growing of missionaries involvement in trafficking innocent tribal children,a majority of them minor girls, from the North-East to southern states, Supreme Court has ordered a probe.
Concerned by preliminary reports from Tamil Nadu Police, which rescued 76 children belonging to Assam and Manipur from “homes” run by missionaries, the court asked National Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights (NEZCC) to get to the bottom of this alleged scam.
TN Police, in its affidavit before the SC, said, “Pastor Shaji was arrested at Somanur in Coimbatore district on February 12 and remanded in judicial custody. Effective steps are being taken to nab the absconding accused Rev Paul. A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice B S Chauhan accepted amicus curiae Aparna Bhat’s suggestion for a thorough probe into the alleged incidents of child trafficking from N-E state.
Additional solicitor general Indira Jaising pointed out that TN Police had not detailed the facts of the case to the court. “This is a federal from far-flung tribal areas of N-E state to down south. How could these children be taken over 1,000 km away without any one noticing anything”, Jaising said and supported a probe by NCPCR to unearth the alleged racket.
When the ASG said matter had to be probed indepth as majority of the children appeared to be minor girls as could be inferred from the sketchy police report, the Bench issued notices to Manipur and Assam governments seeking their re-sponse to the serious issue of trafficking.
The Superintendent of police, Kanyakumari district, in his affidavit informed the apex court that on a tip off the child welfare in section committee visited “Bethesda Blessing Ministries Home” at Plavilai, Kaliyakkavilai, run by Pastor Shaji and found 76 children living in squalid conditions. The committee immediately informed the police about the need to “rescue these children who were kept in that home which had no proper living environment. The police rescued them and lodged them at the nearest government shelter home.
The Kanyakumari SP informed the SC that all the children belonged to “Zeme” tribe in Manipur and Assam and that Rev Paul belonged to the same community. “Due to poverty, of these children entrusted them to Rev Paul on the promise that he would provide better education and healthcare to them,” the SP said.
“At the time of taking the children, Rev Paul collected Rs. 5,000 from each of the parents for expenses,” he said.
Giving details of the manner in which these children were brought to TN. The police officer said, Rev Paul brought them from Manipur and Assam to Chennai in 2008. Initially, they were accommodated in “Alice Rebecca Matriculation School, Redhills Chennai,” then they were taken to Kerala and finally handed over to Pastor Shaji during the year 2009.”
Mentioning the arrest of Pastor Shaji the SP said, “Effective steps are being taken to nab the absconding accused Rev Paul. Only after arresting him, we can get more information about the transportation of children. “He said the 76 minor children were sent back to their native places on February 11 and had since been united with their family.
However, amicus curiae Bhat drew the court’s attention to another report on the rescuer to 17 more Manipur children by Police in Chennai on March 27. The Bench said there could be a possibility that these organisations were bringing children from N-E to southern state to impart education as they must be receiving huge, donations in this regard. “Every thing may not be legal in this,” the Bench added.
But Jaising said whether it was for education, labour or sexual exploitation, illegal trafficking of children had to be stopped and no one had any business in uprooting them from their family without their consent.
(The Times of India)