Twenty-eight children from Leh, who were kept in confinement in dingy rooms by a non-governmental organisation, were rescued by the Jammu police on Sunday. The children have been handed over to the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA), which will take them back to Leh on Monday.
The police also arrested five members of the NGO, Youth Movement for Peace, on charges of kidnapping, abduction, hatching criminal conspiracy and wrongful confinement.
The police are looking into allegations that the children were kidnapped for religious conversion.
“We will take these children back to Leh on Monday. We, along with their parents, will bear their educational expenses,” LBA general secretary PK Gunzong said.
According to the police, members of the NGO had gone to Leh and distributed aid among the victims of the cloudburst in August.
They had then “adopted” the 24 children, promising their parents that they would be admitted to prestigious schools in Jammu. Instead they were locked up inside small rooms – 20 boys in one room and four girls in another.
When the LBA came to know that the children were kept in such conditions, they informed the district administration and parents.
The district administration formed a three-member committee to look into the allegations. The committee found that the NGO had neither teaching staff nor a psychiatrist needed to counsel children. The report also said that a case had been registered last year against some members of the NGO on charges of conversion.
“Allegations of religious conversions are serious and we cannot allow the NGO to stay here. We will ask the government to order a probe and make the findings public,” Gunzong said.