TUHIN DUTTA / INDIAN EXPRESS
Working as help for three months, teenager fled on Saturday; rescued, sent to juvenile home
The Gurgaon administration on Monday sent a 14-year-old girl, who was rescued by Childline on Saturday night, to a juvenile home here.
Childline officials claimed the authorities had not adopted the correct procedure to send the girl to the juvenile home. “There should have been a bench of five magistrates and four members who should have heard the case. The case was, however, heard only by the district child welfare officer,” said officials of Childline.
Childline officials said the girl, a resident of Alipurduar in West Bengal, had been rescued earlier from Lajpat Nagar in Delhi in 2009. The girl’s parents had reportedly left her three-four years ago, following which she was taken in by her uncle. The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) had, however, sent her to CWC in Ranchi for rehabilitation. Later, she was sent back to West Bengal to be reunited with her family.
But she was sold again, allegedly by her own uncle in connivance with another person, and was brought to Gurgaon. During counselling, the girl said she was enrolled with a placement agency in the city, along with 15-20 other girls from West Bengal and Jharkhand. She said they were harassed regularly and not given enough food, officials said. Around three months ago, she was hired as a domestic help at a house in Sector 18, Gurgaon. Unhappy with the work, she fled on Saturday.
A rickshaw-puller had found her wandering in the vicinity of Sukhrali Market and contacted Childline. The child helpline also questioned the rules followed by the district administration and police. “There should have been an update of the FIR, and a case should also have been registered under the Juvenile Justice Act, which was not done,” the official added.
Since the girl was ill-treated at work, action should have been initiated against her employers, officials said. The authorities should have also demanded a proper investigation report from authorities in Alipurduar from where she was sold, officials added.
The district authorities, however, maintained that there was a provision that even one member of a CWC can hear a case and take a decision. “If any one member is present, the case can be handled by him,” Sajjan Singh, District Child Welfare Officer told Newsline.
Since the girl has not been able to tell the authorities exactly where in Gurgaon she was employed as a domestic help, further action against her employees could not be taken. “The FIR can be updated and the Juvenile Justice Act invoked only when more information is available, which we will try to gather from the girl,” said Singh.