The state government is planning a crackdown on unregistered children’s shelters after a warden was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing children at an unauthorised hostel he had been running in Aurangabad.
The arrest of Jaisingh Michael (45) for sexual offences, including rape of children at the missionary-run hostel, has sparked outrage.
Vijay Satbir Singh, secretary to the Ministry of Women and Child Development in Maharashtra, said it was the second-highest-profile case of sexual abuse being alleged at an unauthorised institution in the state.
The first, he said, was the Anchorage shelters in Mumbai set up by Briton Duncan Grant (64) to rehabilitate street children in 1995.
An FIR was registered by Childline in 2001 against Grant and Alan Waters (59), another Briton, after the charity claimed to have received reports of sex abuse at the shelters.
Grant and Waters were convicted of sexual offences in 2006, but acquitted by the Bombay High Court last year. An appeal admission is pending in the Supreme Court. The shelter was, according to Singh, never registered, though Grant says he did register it, albeit not at the outset.
“My officers have told me it was never registered with us,” said Singh. “The Aurangabad shelter was not registered either. Both were running for some time before they came to our notice, so there could well be other similar cases out there.”
The campaign to root out unathorised shelters will start this month, using local police intelligence and help from the public, he said.
“If we find any unathorised homes or shelters being run in the state, we will close them down and take suitable action against the culprits,” Singh said.
About 108 homeless, poor or orphaned children had been staying at the Aurangabad hostel.
“There were four complaints of rape, one of molestation against girls and three complaints of sexual harassment of boys,” said Singh.
The home has now been shut and 16 of the children handed back to their parents. The other 44 girls and 48 boys have been rehabilitated in other shelters and offered counselling, Singh added.