Jaipur, March 13: Fifty-one children lured with promises of a good life by a purported pastor but starved and kept locked up amid dirt and filth have been rescued from two unregistered homes in Jaipur.
A team from the Rajasthan State Commission for Protection of Child Rights yesterday raided Grace Home in Mansarovar colony and Father’s Children Home in Siddharth Nagar on a complaint from the parents of a child who died of tuberculosis.
Twenty-nine children, 27 of whom were girls between five and 17 years, were found in the two-room Grace Home, which was stinking and littered with rotting vegetables and broken liquor bottles. The windows were locked and a foul stench was emanating from a single broken toilet.
Of the girls, all of whom appeared traumatised, at least 16 were from the Northeast, chiefly Manipur and Nagaland, commission chairperson Deepak Kalra said. Some hailed from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
She said the children were kept locked up all day, starved, never sent to school and had no visitors. They did not even have a woman caretaker — a 14-year-old boy played their supervisor. Their only recreation was a half-hour at a nearby park once a week, she said.
They have all been shifted to children’s homes across the city, Kalra said. But she refused to take too many questions, saying details of the racket were still hazy and would be shared as and when they emerged.
“As and when the kids talk to counsellors, we will let you know. Let them get over the trauma first. All of them are scared and want to go home,” she told The Telegraph.
It was also not clear what the motive in keeping the children was and whether the purported owner, Jacob John, was getting grants to run the homes and ripping it off.
“The children are mostly from very poor Christian families and were lured with promises of a better life. Only when one child returned home and died of TB did the parents complain. We acted on their tip-off. It is surprising the neighbourhood did not realise something was amiss in that home,” Kalra said.
She said John, believed to be a pastor, had been taken into police custody. Neither of his two homes is registered with the government nor are there any papers.
Another commission member, Govind Beniwal, said 22 boys, between seven and 22 years, were rescued from Father’s Children Home. “That home is also run by Jacob. There the conditions are bad but not as inhuman as Grace Home,” he said.
Recently, police rescued nearly 100 children from trains bound for Bihar and Bengal. While 63 were rescued from Jaipur station from a Jodhpur-Howrah train, 34 were rescued from Bharatpur station from an Ajmer-Sealdah train. Sources said there was a huge demand for child labour in Bengal in summer.