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9 kids home, CBI nudged

Thiruvananthapuram/Ranchi, June 19: On a day nine more rescued children reached Jasidih station, Kerala High Court today sought the CBI’s views on a recent plea for a central agency probe into the alleged trafficking of children from Jharkhand, Bihar and Bengal into the southern state.

Since the matter demanded a probe across different states and coordination among various agencies, it was better that a central agency such as the CBI looked into it, the division bench headed by Chief Justice Manjula B. Chellur said.

The court, which issued the notice to the CBI soliciting its opinion in response to a petition by a Kochi-based voluntary outfit asking for a probe by any central agency, also pulled up the Kerala government for not doing enough.

Observing the case of hundreds of children allegedly brought for admission to Kerala orphanages didn’t end with their return to their respective states, the court stressed an elaborate probe was needed to arrive at the truth of the matter.

“Trafficking of even a single child cannot be wished away,” court observed, before wondering how girls below five were brought to Kerala for admission to orphanages.

Today, a Kerala team escorted nine more Jharkhand children to Jasidih station, eight days after a joint contingent of Jharkhand and Kerala officials brought back 119 minors. All children recovered so far are from impoverished Muslim homes in the state’s Godda district.

“Part of the batch which went from Godda to Kerala in May-end, they were lodged at a Calicut welfare home. Three more staying there will be brought back after talks with child welfare committee officials in Kerala,” said Godda DC Rajesh Kumar Sharma.

The case hit national headlines when railway division of Kerala police intercepted 589 children hailing from Jharkhand, Bihar and Bengal as they alighted at a station in Palakkad late last month.

While 466 children reached on May 24, 123 more landed a day later. The first batch was meant for Mukkam Muslim Orphanage in Kozhikode while the second for Anwar-ul Huda Orphanage, Malappuram.

Railway police registered a child trafficking case under section 370(5) of the IPC. Then, crime branch took over.

Nearly a month on, the crime branch has not arrested any orphanage official.

The Oommen Chandy-led coalition government may have its hands tied as leaders of the ruling Congress ally Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) govern the Mukkam orphanage. IUML chief Hyderali Shihab Thangal heads the orphanage’s advisory board.

Even as Opposition BJP and CPM allege political pressure behind police and state inaction, the IUML is denying trafficking charges and Chandy has only said there might have been “procedural lapses” in bringing the children.


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