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Covid orphans' illegal adoption: J&K Chief Secretary reviews progress of probe
Srinagar, Dec 2 - Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta on Thursday reviewed the progress in the probe into alleged illegal adoption and sale of Covid orphans in the Union Territory's Pampore town and tracking down the culprits.
Stressing zero tolerance for such activities, he directed the Home Department to increase surveillance and inspect the orphanages/'nari' and 'bal' ashrams (women and child shelters)/NGOs/hospitals.
At high-level meeting he chaired to review the progress, Mehta also considered the administrative measures being taken by the Social Welfare Department and the law enforcement agencies to prevent occurrence of such incidents in future.
The Administrative Secretary, Home, Special Director General, CID, the Administrative Secretaries of Social Welfare and Law Departments, two Divisional commissioners and DIG, Central Kashmir Range and other senior officers attended the meeting.
While informing that two persons have been arrested, the DIG, Central Kashmir informed that the investigation under a DSP-rank officer is going on and it is expected that in about weeks time, the department will be able to get to the bottom of the case.
He further informed that the case is under review and given the gravity of the case, more stringent sections of the law will be imposed on the accused going forward before the case reaches the trial stage.
The Chief Secretary stated that the trafficking of children and women is an inhuman practice and is absolutely unacceptable.
"There should be zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and forced labour and the government will pull out all stops in ridding the UT of this menace," Mehta said.
He stated that human trafficking almost always has a narco/drug dimension, which has been seen to have linkages with terrorism in the UT.
It was informed that Child Welfare Committees have been asked to meet Covid orphans identified by the department and submit a report to the department.
Mehta directed Social Welfare Department to conduct audit of the human resource and the accounts of these centres for the last 5 years.
He asked the Department to obtain the report regarding the welfare of Covid orphans from the field and share it with his office by Thursday evening.
The Chief Secretary asked Home Department to ensure that every such centre was inspected by the nearest police station in the UT and a report shared by them with the department by evening.
Giving details of the NGOs dealing with child and women welfare in the UT, an I&C Department official informed the meet that there are around 6,000 such NGOs registered in J&K.
It was further informed that post reorganisation of the J&K state into UTs of J&K and Ladakh, the process of re-registering these societies under the central act had begun.
So far less than 1,000 societies have been re-registered and their details are also available on Darpan portal.
Dr Mehta also advised the I&C Department to share the list of all NGOs operating in the space with Social Welfare and Police Departments.
He also directed that the Social Welfare Department should get the verification of 6,000 NGOs done in concert with district administration and PRIs within a month and shared the findings with the government.
The Chief Secretary asked the I&C Department to put all those NGOs, which have not re-registered, on notice stating that if they do not re-register within 15 days, they will no longer be allowed to operate.
He also directed it to share the details of those NGOs, which don't re-register, with the district and divisional administration so that appropriate law enforcement action is initiated against them.
The Chief Secretary asked the Social Welfare Department to take steps in consultation with the Health Department to verify all the children hospitals/gynecological sections/ neonatal sections of the hospitals in the UT within next 15 days.
He directed the Law Department to seek details of the trusts operating in the space for the last 10 years from the judiciary for purpose of their verification.
The Chief Secretary laid emphasis on tracking cases of child/women trafficking in the cyber domain and asked the Home Department to ensure proper cyber surveillance though anti trafficking units of the Police Department in both the divisions.
Stating that begging and trafficking syndicates can't be allowed to have a free run in J&K, he directed to maintain special watch on placement agencies, organisations scouting young girls and boys for talent hunt programmes, beauty pageants, escort services etc.
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