|The children after being handed over to the chief secretary of Meghalaya on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos
Shillong, March 13: The Meghalaya government today received 20 minor girls brought by the child welfare committee (CWC) of Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu following the order of Madras High Court.
The girls were taken by an NGO — Laisynshar Cultural Society (LCS) to the Sri Niveditha Seva Trust, a unit of Seva Bharath at Hosur in Tamil Nadu. (According to a PTI report, this NGO is unauthorised).
When the government was informed of this, the children were rescued in October last year. A division bench, comprising acting Chief Justice Sathish K. Agnihotri and Justice M.M. Sunderesh, who heard a public interest litigation in this regard, directed the CWC Tamil Nadu to produce the children on March 13 before the Meghalaya chief secretary.
The girls were handed over to the officiating Meghalaya chief secretary, P.B.O. Warjri, today by the chairman of CWC Krishnagiri district, Tamil Nadu, Vincent Sundarraj.
The court said the parents of the children were at liberty to send them back to Tamil Nadu to complete the present academic session in the same school in which they were studying.
The 20 girls, aged between 8 and 14, were from far-flung areas of West Khasi Hills, East Khasi Hills, East and West Jaintia Hills districts.
The girls were rescued by the CWC of Krishnagiri district from the Sri Niveditha Seva Trust and shifted to a government-run home at Hosur before bringing them back to Meghalaya following the order of Madras High Court.
The NGO said the minor girls were sent to Tamil Nadu to study with the consent of their parents and denied that they were trafficked.
Meghalaya social welfare minister Deborah C. Marak had earlier said that sending minor girls outside the state without the knowledge of the CWC was in violation of the Juvenile Justice Act.
After completing all the required formalities including verification of the identity of the children and their parents, the Meghalaya chief secretary formally handed them over to their parents and guardians in the presence of officials of the Meghalaya social welfare department at U Soso Tham auditorium here.
Warjri said that the Meghalaya government would submit a compliance report to Madras High Court.
While telling the parents that it is upto them to send their children back to Tamil Nadu, he also advised them to take care of their children.
Some of the children said they would not like to go back to Tamil Nadu. Even parents of some of the children said they need to think about whether they would send back their wards there.
However, some other parents from Jaintia Hills said they were willing send their children to the southern state again.