A shelter home in Ranchi has come under the scanner after a minor girl from Bangladesh went missing from there on December 16, raising questions over the security apparatus existing at such rehabilitation centres that abound in the state.
It has come to the fore that Premashraya on Station Road, where the alleged victim of trafficking was taken to on December 2 after being rescued by railway police from Hatia station, is not registered with the government in violation of the Juvenile Justice Act.
Taking serious note of the incident, the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of Ranchi district sought an explanation from the home and pulled it up for not reporting the matter to the police or to it immediately after the girl went missing on December 16 last year.
Premashraya’s superintendent Priyambada, who appeared before the CWC on Monday, denied charges of negligence and in turn, blamed police. “The girl went missing from the centre on the morning of December 16. She also stole some cash. After failing to find her, we approached Chutia police but they refused to take down an FIR. We also informed the SSP’s office through an application the same day. CWC was also informed over phone and later on, a detailed report was sent to it via mail on December 21,” Priyambada said.
Asked why the centre is not registered with the department of social welfare, women and child development, Priyambada said they had applied for it about one-and-a-half-years ago, but the sanction has not come.
However, CWC’s chairman Om Prakash Singh is not convinced. “Basic provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act were not followed in this case. They (the centre authorities) need to explain the circumstances under which the girl went missing and what they did after police refused to entertain them. Why were we informed so late?” Singh said.
More complications are in store as the Bangladesh embassy in India, in a communication to CWC on December 10, had said that an official team would visit Ranchi for repatriation of the girl anytime after the election in the neighbouring country is over.
When contacted, officer-in-charge of Chutia police station Krishna Murari said: “I was on leave that day. But I have inquired into the matter. People from the shelter home had come to the police station to seek suggestions after the girl went missing. Those present asked them to file an FIR. But they left, saying that they would first try to trace the girl and would come back for an FIR if only their efforts failed. They didn’t return.”
Ranchi SSP Bhim Sen Tuti also held the home responsible for the gaffe. “If indeed local police refused registering an FIR, they should have met me or any other senior official as the case is sensitive. Even the DSP is not aware of it. I need to check their claims that they sent in an application to my office,” he said.
Seema Sharma, protection officer (non-institutional care) of CWC, who had prepared a preliminary profile of the girl, said she hailed from Kushamal village in Bakerganj of Barisal district, Bangladesh.
According to her, a woman from Calcutta, Mala, had lured the girl away from her home with the promise of a job. Mala had also introduced her to another woman, Mukli Begum. Both convinced her to come to Calcutta to work.
The girl fell for the trap and reached Calcutta on the night of November 29 and stayed with Mala at Lebu Bagan.
However, she soon got inkling that she might be sold at some brothel and fled on December 1. She boarded the Howrah-Hatia Express and reached Ranchi. After getting down at Hatia station, she started crying. Railway police took her under their wings and sent her to Premashraya.