With an aim to thwart any pressure on the inmates of Bal Niketan - a home for orphan girls in Sector 15 - on whose complaint an FIR was lodged against 50-year-old supervisor of the home for sexually harassing them, the UT social welfare department has decided to shift the complainants to another government-run destitute home.
As many as 16 girls in the age group of 8 to 16 had deposed before the four-member committee which found supervisor Manish Arora guilty. Out of total, 12 had given statements against the accused.
Social welfare department director Rajesh Jogpal said at present, the police investigation was in progress and statements of the victims were being recorded. "Just to ensure that they are not put under any pressure from the staff or any other quarters, we have decided to shift them to other place," said Jogpal.
The department has written to the child welfare committee (CWC) to transfer the children to Snehalaya, a Chandigarh administration-run home for destitute children at Maloya.
Snehalaya is home to children aged between 5 and 18, who are found on the streets, single-parent children, orphans and those abandoned. The children are admitted after the scrutiny by the child welfare committee.
A move too late?
Pankaj Chandgothia, a city-based advocate and human rights activist, however, questions the decision of the administration to move the complainants to other place nearly after three weeks the matter came to light on April 2.
The complaint from Bal Niketan inmates was received on child helpline number 1098 which was forwarded to the social welfare department. Subsequently, orders for an inquiry were issued and a four-member committee was set up on April 3.
For protecting the interest of minor complainants, they should have been shifted to some other place immediately after the complaint was received, said Chandgothia.
According to sources, the administration had received a request for shifting Bal Niketan girls to Snehalaya, soon after the matter came to light, but was not considered as inquiry was in progress.
The administration had already passed orders to take over the home, which was being run by an NGO.
Bal Niketan has a capacity of accommodating around 45 children and at present, is house to 40 girls in the age group 6 to 18. All the girls are pursuing their studies at a government school in Sector 15.