The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the district police of Kutch in Gujarat to probe allegations of 34 children who had gone missing from an orphanage-cum-child protection home in Gandhidham town of Kutch in 2017.
The NHRC has also asked the police to investigate the alleged gang-rape of a minor girl by two school students of the same institute in August 2018 The Indian Express reported.
The action comes after the district magistrate of Kutch and Superintendent of Police (SP) of Kutch failed to file reports, twice, over the past year.
According to the media reports of 2017, the matter was highlighted by one Vinod Khubchandani, a Gandhidham resident, who had approached the NHRC about the missing children from the Jeevan Prabhat orphanage.
He alleged that the children were also sexually assaulted and subjected to menial works at the institute run by Arya Samaj Charitable Trust, an NGO.
Khubchandani claimed that children had been disappearing from the Jeevan Prabhat institute for the past 17 years, which was founded to shelter children who were orphaned during the 2001 Gujarat earthquake.
In August 2018, he had informed the police about the alleged gang-rape of a minor girl living in the institute and sought to book the management of the institute over the matter.
In response to the complaint about missing children that time, the Kutch SP had lodged a report, claiming that the 34 children who disappeared had returned to their parents and relatives.
The NHRC later found that those children were listed without any guardians at the time they went missing, and directed the district magistrate to seek action against the institute, following which the institute's license was cancelled.
This was challenged in the Gujarat High Court by the NGO. They secured a stay on the license cancellation.
According to a report filed with the NHRC last year, the Kutch collector had served a show-cause notice on the NGO, asking why action should not be initiated over the matter and for not maintaining records of the children.
In response, the NGO stated that no case was registered by any parent or guardian with regards to the missing children and that they had no records of such development.
The Gujarat earthquake occurred on January 26, 2001, on India's 52nd Republic Day that majorly affected the village of Chobari in Bhachau Taluka of Kutch District of Gujarat, reporting more than 12,000 deaths. Many of who survived were left as orphans.
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