Fate of over 50 poor children of Theatre Age still uncertain

  • Nikhil Sharma, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jul 14, 2015 11:28 IST
The UT education department has sealed the premises of Theatre Age at Government High School, Sector 24, Chandigarh. (Gurpreet Singh/ HT)

Two days after the Zulfiqar Khan episode, in which the noted theatre personality was accused of sexual exploitation of students, the administration has ordered an inquiry but the fate of over 50 students, who were receiving free education and training at Theatre Age, is still uncertain. As of now, Khan's remand has been extended by five days.

Following his arrest, the education department sealed the premises of Theatre Age at Government Model School, Sector 24. “The NGO premises has been handed over to the school principal, who has been directed to merge it in the school since no classes would be held at Theatre Age from now on,”said director public instructions Kamlesh Kumar.

Meanwhile, the Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights has also pitched in to safeguard the interests of students. Its chairman, Devi Sirohi, is expected to meet the education department officials on Tuesday. She said since students were already traumatised by the incident, they should not further suffer due to negligence on part of the officials concerned.

“We will urge the Sector-24 school principal to enrol these innocent students in her school. Also, the officials concerned will be recommended to depute a theatre teacher as many of them only attended classes at Theatre Age,”said Sirohi, adding the social welfare department should regularly monitor the functioning of these NGOs.

According to sources, there are around 100 NGOs in the tricity of which 20 are working towards the welfare for children. “Such incidents erode people’s faith in NGOs. Need of the hour is to keep a tab on their functioning,”said Sirohi. Students, who were working with Zulfiqar, have expressed grief over the issue. “It’s really painful to see all this. We were a happy family and I still believe he is innocent. We want him back and don’t want our future to end like this,”said Rohit, a student of Theatre Age.


UT adviser Vijay Dev has marked the probe to home secretary Anurag Agarwal to look into the case involving Khan, director of an NGO, Theatre Age. He has also asked two secretary-level officers of the department of social welfare to frame guidelines to prevent occurrence of such incidents. The development is significant as no such inspection or survey has been conducted by the administration to keep a check on the functioning of social organisations so far.


After the arrest of Zulfiqar, the official website of Theatre Age was blocked. Since many prominent personalities had been engaged with him, it contained documents revealing their cordial relations with the tainted artist.

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