Nine minor inmates of a state-run welfare home for women in Malda of north Bengal escaped on Tuesday night before four of them were captured by the security personnel in an incident that brought into focus miserable conditions that they are forced to live in.
Of the five who managed to flee, one is a Bangladeshi. Police has launched a hunt for them.
The incident took place even before the state managed to recover from the shocks of CID busting two baby selling rackets from welfare homes in south Bengal in November 2016 and February 2017.
The minors fled the Malda home around midnight after climbing to the rooftop and then scaling the boundary wall with saris and ropes. Two of them sustained injuries in the leg after they fell from the roof.
”Four Indian and a Bangladeshi national have fled from the welfare home. I have to accept that the girls took the advantage of lack of proper vigilance at night,” said Englishbazar MLA Nihar Ranjan Ghosh.
Sources told HT that the home in Baluchar area under Englishbazar police station can decently accommodate only about 30 inmates, but as many as 77 girls are forced to live there. As a result, they did not get enough food and even space to sleep properly.
Unable to put up with the hardship, some of the girls decided to escape.
The chairperson of Child Welfare Committee of Malda district, Chaitali Ghosh Sarkar, accepted that there more than double the approved number of boarders were staying there. ”Due to some unavoidable circumstances we were bound to keep 77 boarders at the welfare home,” she said.
On Wednesday morning when Malda district magistrate S K Dwivedi and some other senior officers went to the welfare home they were greeted by local agitators who staged a gherao. They could enter the home only after local councilor Prasenjit Das pacified the agitators.
“The boarders came from different walks of society. Many of them have the tendency to escape from government-run shelter homes that they view as bondage. There two National Volunteer Force personnel, two night guards and some other employees look after the security of the boarders. I don’t know how the girls managed to flee away,” said the district CWC chairperson.
A senior officer of the district administration told HT that prima facie they have found several drawbacks in the operations of the welfare home.
Till a few years ago the welfare home was situated near Sukanta crossing area of Malda town. Later it was shifted to the new building that can accommodate fewer girls. The shelter was home to both types of children -- juveniles violating law and those who need protection.