About 10 days after they lost their elder sister Shanno, the lives of eight-year-old Shaina and seven-year-old Shanaz are about to undergo a drastic change. They will soon be leaving their home at the JJ Colony at Bawana in north-west Delhi to live in an orphanage.
On April 15, 11-year-old Shanno, a Class II student at the MCD Girls Primary School at Bawana, went into coma after her class teacher Manju allegedly made her stand in the sun for two hours as punishment. Admitted to hospital the next day in critical condition, the child died on April 17.
On Sunday, Shanno’s father, Mohammad Ayub Khan, admitted her younger sisters to Happy Home, an orphanage run by the Zakat Foundation of India, an NGO, at Batla House in south Delhi.
“My daughters don’t want to go back to that school again,” said Khan. “They’re afraid they’ll be victimised if they return. Moreover, I’m disillusioned with the quality of education there — after the way the school treated Shanno.”
The admission formalities for Shaina and Shanaz were completed on Sunday; they will move to the orphanage soon.
“Their mother Rehanna doesn’t want to let them go immediately and insists that we send them after five to six days,” said Khan. “Though Rehanna is quite upset, she knows it’s for the good of the girls. They’ll have access to good education and will live better than they’ve been living at home.”
About 65 girls and boys between the ages of four and 13 years live at Happy Home. All of them study at God’s Grace School at Abul Fazal Enclave. Shaina and Shanaz, too, will study there.
“Most children here are orphans, but we’ve made a few exceptions in the past,” said Syed Zafar Mahmood, president, Zakat Foundation of India.
“Even though the two girls are not orphans, we have decided to adopt them as they need care and deserve a good education,” said Mahmood.
Child-rights activists said moving the girls to the orphanage was unfortunate.
“All orphanages in Delhi are registered with the government,” said Bhuvan Ribhu, an activist and a Supreme Court lawyer.
“They can admit the children now, but later they will have to submit a case study to justify why the two need special care. In my opinion, it is quite shameful that the father has been forced to give up his daughters because he can’t afford to send them to another school. It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that these children get a good education, which is their right,” said Ribhu.
No strict disciplinary action has been taken against the schoolteacher Manju yet. The vigilance committee set up by the MCD is yet to submit its inquiry report.
“No one from the MCD committee has even got in touch with us to listen to Shaina’s version of what happened that day,” said Khan.