More skeletons tumble out of CCI, as boys claim torture, forced labour
The boys made the revelations during a counselling session with members of Child Welfare Committee (CWC)Updated: Sep 06, 2017 22:15 IST
After the tell-all by a minor who alleged to have faced sexual abuse at child care institute Ujjwal Niketan and isolation by fellow inmates for raising her voice against the caretaker, Sister Lily Baretto, a group of boys at the home run by the charitable trust at Hayatpur have now come out with a disclosure of how they had been forced into child labour and were even taken to different cities for work.
During their counselling session with members of the Child Welfare Committee on Tuesday, six inmates, including four boys narrated their ordeal. They said they were brutally assaulted when they tried to raise their voice against such misdeeds and some said that the scars from the beatings do not let them shake off the trauma of the abuse.
Sister Lily, the 65-year-old caretaker of the centre, was arrested on Sunday night from a church in Sukhdev Vihar, Delhi, on charges of handing over children under her custody for adoption against the norms. She is also accused of child trafficking and was booked under relevant sections of the Juvenile Justice Act and the Indian Penal Code.
The CCI in Hayatpur was founded in 2005 at a farmhouse and there were 14 inmates, including nine girls. While five boys were subsequently shifted to Udyan CCI in Narsinghpur, Gurgaon, the girls moved to Aarushi Home CCI in July. They were moved out after the department of women and child development (WCD) ordered the Hayatpur CCI to shut down on July 7.
Fifteen-year-old Varun (name changed) along with his sister was left at a construction site by his parents and later they were handed over to the police and sent to the CCI.
“Living in the CCI was as bad as staying in jail. At least, in jail, the inmates get freshly cooked food. Here, we were given stale food. I wanted to study, but was forced into the tilling the village fields instead. I was also assigned to cut trees, construct the boundary wall of the CCI and even clean utensils,” the 15-year-old told Hindustan Times.
The inmates said they were often assaulted when they refused to work or asked to be provided proper food.
“Once, I was asked to bring a hot iron from the first floor and it accidentally came into contact with another inmate, which the Sister (Lily) got angry and asked one of the staffers to scald my hand for inflicting a burn injury on my fellow boarder. No medicine or ointment was given to me to heal the wound. I had to apply toothpaste on the wound for a week for it to heal,” another inmate recounted.
The inmates recorded their statements in the presence of Chief Judicial Magistrate Suruchi Atreja, the chairperson of the three-member observation committee formed to probe allegations of abuse and violations at the CCI in February. The panel was set up following a directive by the Punjab and Haryana high court.
“I was taken to Mangalore by train several times. Seats weren’t reserved for me and the other boys and we were made to sit near the gate throughout the journey. We were not even given food and water. I felt like running away from the CCI several times, but was told by fellow inmates that if the police tracks me down and brings me back to the home the Sister will lock me up,” another inmate said.
“I was taken to Goa, Madgaon, and Mangalore thrice in the last two years. I was asked to clean a house and whitewash it. I was treated like a servant. Sister Lily never liked anyone smiling and always instructed her aides to be strict with us. When we were given stale food and objected, we were beaten with sticks, iron rods and kitchen roller,” an inmate said showing a scar on his head.
Medical tests will be conducted on all inmates alleging abuse and torture at the CCI, a CWC member said.
“Their statements have been recorded under Section 164 of CrPC. We have to ensure their safety and security. Sister Lily’s aides are still trying to create pressure on these children,” Shakuntala Dhull, chairperson, CWC, said.