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Katraj child sexual abuse case: Family trauma as rescued children not allowed to meet their parents

On July 28, child rights activists along with the city police raided the Jamia Arabia Darul Yatama madrasa, rescued the children and arrested the accused, Abdul Rahim Gulam, a teacher at the madrasa.

pune Updated: Aug 18, 2018 17:58 IST
Nozia Sayyed and Nadeem Inamdar
Nozia Sayyed and Nadeem Inamdar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Parents of the rescued children, mostly daily-wage labourers from Bihar, wait to hear news of their wards from the CWC.(HT Photo)

Thirty-six children, mostly from Bihar, who were rescued by Pune police on July 28 following allegations of sexual exploitation in a madrasa here, continue to suffer trauma even as they are being prevented from meeting their poor parents.

On July 28, child rights activists along with the city police raided the Jamia Arabia Darul Yatama madrasa, rescued the children and arrested the accused, Abdul Rahim Gulam, a teacher at the madrasa.

An FIR was registered against him under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. The madrasa had children between the ages of five and 14 years.

Dr Yamini Adbe, child rights activist, who helped rescue the 36 boys during an operation with the police told HT on Friday that “children had tested positive for sodomy”.

The medical reports of the children were prepared by the government-run Sassoon General Hospital. The Bharati Vidyapeeth police, however, said they were still awaiting the reports.

For the last 20 days, the parents of the children who are daily wage workers, have not been permitted to meet their children.

Mohammad Anjaar from Bhagalpur, one of the parents of the affected children, said there were 25 others like him who had left their jobs and come to Pune to meet their distressed children. “We do not have any shelter or place to stay. We are all staying in a slum in a crammed place,” he said.

Mohammad Azeem, another parent from Bhagalpur said they had met child welfare committee (CWC) officials and tried to convince them to hand over the children. “They asked us to fetch many documents including Aadhar card, ration card, affidavit, letter from the sarpanch, etc. We went back to Bihar and produced these; still our request has not been met,” he said.

“We just want to reunite with our children and want to take them back with us. It’s Eid too and we would like to celebrate it with our sons and forget this nightmare,” he said

Dr Adbe said the State government’s child welfare committee (CWC) Pune was trying to transfer the children in their custody back to Bihar CWC.

“When parents are present here, the CWC cannot continue to keep the victims in their custody. The children are not offenders; they are victims and hence they need to meet and see their parents,” Dr. Adbe stressed. She said the parents had produced all the documents asked for by the CWC, adding, “They are poor labourers and have no place to stay in Pune.”

Another social activist, Azhar Tamboli, said CWC Pune had written to the Bihar CWC and was awaiting the government’s permission to transfer the children there.

Bharati Vidyapeeth police station’s investigating officer, Vaishali Bhosale, said, “We have given an NOC (no objection certificate) to the CWC to hand over the children to their respective parents without any delay.”

When contacted, CWC Pune’s chairperson, Dr Jadhvar said, “This is an inter-state matter. We have indeed written to the Bihar CWC and the authorities there. Our entire process and procedure is now complete. Once we receive an okay and approval from Bihar authorities, we will immediately transfer the children there.”

The alleged sexual exploitation of the children came to light when two children who managed to flee from the Katraj madrasa were found loitering on the Pune Railway station on July 23. The Railway Police who spotted the children informed the NGO Sathi to organise their rescue.

Bharati Vidyapeeth police station awaiting medical reports

The Bharati Vidyapeeth police said they were awaiting the medical reports of the children who were allegedly exploited sexually by Jamia Arabia Darul Yatima orphanage caretaker, Abdul Rahim Ghulam.

Vishnu Pawar, police station incharge, said, “We have completed the necessary investigations and the matter is before the child welfare committee (CWC) which is conducting further investigations into the case. The custody of all the 36 children is with the CWC and it will decided by CWC and not the police. As far the details of medical reports of the two juveniles are concerned, we are still awaiting those reports and cannot comment on the issue any further,” he said.

An FIR was registered against Shaikh with Kondhwa police station and was transferred to Bharati Vidyapeeth police station on July 27 for further investigation, as the orphanage is located under the latter’s jurisdiction.

The Bharati Vidyapeeth police in their report submitted to the court stated that the statements of 12 out of 36 children have been recorded before the Child Welfare Committee.

“The accused used to beat the children with a stick and iron pipe. The investigation has revealed that only 18 children were registered with the madrasa, while details of others were not there at all . The children were brought from different states but there is no consent letter obtained from their parents. There were 36 children at the madrasa but one five-year-old boy was immediately sent away. We cannot rule out the possibility that he was not abused by the accused,” the police report stated.

First Published: Aug 18, 2018 14:37 IST