Shillong, July 30: Meghalaya officials recently rescued six children who were allegedly performing in a "mini circus" in the state's Ri Bhoi district.
According to an official communiqué issued today, the district child protection unit (DCPU) of Ri Bhoi district at Nongpoh, led by the district child protection officer (DCPO), along with the district police rescued the six children from Nongpoh. This was in contravention of the Juvenile Justice Act Rule 78, the communiqué said.
On July 9, the DCPO received a phone call informing of a mini circus performed by three children at Nongpoh.
On reaching the circus venue, the DCPO and a social worker found that the children were performing "dangerous acts".
"While one of the boys was piercing his eye with a needle, another child was walking on stilts; a little boy of around six years was collecting money from the public who had gathered around," the communiqué added.
When the Nongpoh police arrived on being informed by the DCPO, a woman, identified as Soneveer, claimed to be the mother of the children.
She also claimed she had obtained permission for them to perform in the circus. The police took the children to the police station. There, the team learned that there was another group of children comprising two boys and a girl performing near Bethany Hospital, Nongpoh. A police team brought them to the police station too.
"The only document produced at the police station was a copy of the voter card of Soneveer and permission letters from different places. The documents produced later (by the woman who claimed to be the mother) showed applications for permission to perform circus at various places like Gangtok, Darjeeling, Bhutan, Nepal and others. However, all the documents were found invalid since they were dated since last year. There were no legal papers except the copy of the voter card of the woman," the communiqué stated.
The DCPO immediately informed the Child Welfare Committee about the children and arrangements were made to accommodate them at the Government Children's Home Boys and Girls, while the woman was taken to the Missionaries of Charity, Nongpoh.
On July 10 Jitesh Kumar, who claimed to be an elder brother of some of the children, produced copies of his Aadhaar card, headman certificate from Phaphund (Uttar Pradesh), various permission letters received from places where they have performed and a copy of a post office savings account passbook of Javar Singh (who claimed to the husband of Soneveer), the communiqué stated.
"Post questioning, the team learned that there are around eight such groups who intended to join this group. Other groups may be scattered in Bengal, Sikkim and Assam. The group originally hailed from Uttar Pradesh. However, since they moved around performing circus, they have been staying in Nepal for the last 12 years. In the aftermath of the earthquake, they left Nepal and arrived here to earn their livelihood," it added.
On receiving necessary inputs about the children, the social welfare department, in its meeting held recently, comprising the CWC chairperson and members, and the DCPU team, made necessary arrangements to escort the children back to Phaphund, Uttar Pradesh.