EOI, DARJEELING, 24 Feb 2017: The Darjeeling police today arrested a juvenile accused of making a minor girl pregnant a year ago at a private shelter home in Pokhraybong, 28km from Darjeeling. The home was run by a local woman, who is presently absconding.
The 14-year-year old has been charged under Sections 6 and 17 of the POCSO Act and under Sections 42 and 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) act. He was produced today before the Juvenile Justice Board and sent to the Korok Observation Home in Jalpaiguri district.
Cases of kidnapping and negligence have been slapped against Smriti Rai, who used to run the Riverdale shelter home, without proper registration and valid documents. The Darjeeling District Childline Service, Kurseong Sub Centre and Sukhaypokhari police have rescued the victim, aged 16 years, and her younger brother, who was also staying at the shelter home along with three other children.
Childline India Foundation (CIF) is the nodal agency of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development acting as the parent Organisation for setting up, managing and monitoring the CHILDLINE 1098 service all over the country.
According to officials of the Kurseong sub centre of CHILDLINE, the incident dates back to January, last month. “On January 16, we got information about an untoward incident at the Riverdale home in Pokhraybong. We then informed the Child Welfare Committee who on January 20 issued us an order to rescue the children. On January 26, we reached the shelter home and rescued the victim and her younger brother,” said Esha Lepcha, in-charge of the Childline Kurseong Sub Centre.
The other three children were rescued on February 4. Lepcha said the children at that time were staying with locals and an FIR was lodged the next day on February 5 at the Sukhaypokhari police station as the owner had disappeared locking the home. “When we reached the shelter home on February 4, we did not find the owner and there weren't any children either. However, when we visited the houses of some nearby residents, we found three children staying with them. We did not find the owner and the remaining children as the home was locked down,” Lepcha said, adding the owner who was summoned by the CWC on January 20 to furnish documents related to her shelter home reported to the office only on February 3 but without any valid papers.
The Childline Kurseong sub centre and police have so far rescued 11 minors from the shelter home along with the victim and her younger brother, while five others have been traced to their homes although official ground verification is still on.
“We have traced 11 minors from the home and an official verification is being conducted at the moment. The arrested juvenile was produced in the JJB today and sent to the Korok observation home in Jalpaiguri. We have started a case against Rai as she was operating the shelter home without a valid registration and as she is absconding at the moment,” said Amit Javalgi, the Darjeeling Superintendent of Police.