Wednesday 29th May 2024,
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23 kids rescued from unregistered home say ‘Papa’ gave them Christian names

23 kids rescued from unregistered home say ‘Papa’ gave them Christian names

MEERUT: In a case of suspected child trafficking and conversion, 23 children in the 5-14 age group were rescued from a children’s home called Emmanuel Seva Group in Meerut’s Shastri Nagar on Wednesday afternoon. The children claimed to have two names – one which their parents gave them and the other a Christian name the home’s director gave them in Dehradun “after reading a Bible”.

Asked about the incident, DS Sirohi, station officer, said, “As of now, statements of the children are being taken by members of the Child Welfare Committee. Once that’s done, the district probation officer will file an FIR in the matter.”  The home, which has been running for the last one-and-half years, also did not have any registration as prescribed in Supreme Court guidelines under the Juvenile Justice Act, according to officials. The raid was conducted after activists working with NGO Child Line received a tip-off from their Noida counterparts.

“Nootan Prajapati, a Delhi resident, had given her two daughters to a home in Delhi. She was promised she could have them back once she had a home to live in, but was later told the girls had been transferred to a shelter in Noida and that she had to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to get each daughter back,” said Anita Rana, director, Child Line. “Prajapati complained to Child Line and a raid was done at Emmanuel Seva Home.”

The Seva Group has its headquarters in Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh and has two other Noida addresses. The director is Devraj Gowda, whose wife Anita was present at the children’s home when the raid took place. While the duo denied charges of converting the children to Christianity, the children themselves had another story to narrate.

 “I am from Odisha. My parents left me at a didi’s home two years ago because they did not have money to take care of me. Along with other children I boarded a train with that didi (a woman so far unidentified) but police caught us and took us to the station,” said six-year-old Kritika (name changed). “We were released from police custody by ‘De Papa’ (as Devraj Gowda is called by the children) who took us to Dehradun. There we were given names by him after reading from a Bible. Later, we were brought to Meerut,” the girl added. All the children now have ‘Masih’ as their surname . Anita Gowda, meanwhile, refuted the charges of conversion. “I am myself a Hindu, why would we convert these kids to Christianity? I agree it is our fault that there was no registration yet of the home, but there was no conversion. We just follow Mother Teresa.”

All the kids here are sent to National Public School in Shastri Nagar K-block and allegedly asked to pray to Jesus Christ every morning. Some of the children also alleged they were beaten when they asked to be sent home

“Running a children’s home without registration is indeed illegal but if these people have all the documents in place and get a registration, they will be allowed to run. But if the conversion angle is proved, necessary investigation will be done against them. As of now, the children have been sent to the Child Welfare Committee to record their statements. Only after that will a case be registered,” said district probation officer Pushpendra Kumar

Times of India

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