In a big development, the Women and Child development ministry under minister Maneka Gandhi has taken cognisance of the alleged illegal adoption racket that has come to light in Jharkhand involving a centre of the Missionaries of Charity.
The ministry has directed state governments to ensure the registration of child-care institutions and their linking with the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) within a month. Additionally, the states have been instructed to get the child-care homes run by the Missionaries of Charity all over the country inspected immediately.
A press release has been issued regarding this by the Women and Child development ministry. It reads as follows:
The Minister of Women and Child Development, Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi has directed state governments to ensure that all the child care institutions should be registered and linked to CARA within the next one month.
Taking cognizance of the recent cases of illegal adoptions carried out by Missionaries of Charity in Jharkhand, Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi has instructed the states to get child care homes run by Missionaries of Charity all over the country inspected immediately.
The mandatory registration of CCIs and linking to Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) has been provided in Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 which came into force more than two years ago but some orphanages had challenged the validity of this clause. The Supreme Court has since dismissed the petitions and has upheld the validity, vide their order of December, 2017. Since then, approximately 2300 child care institutions have been linked to CARA and about 4000 are still pending for linkage. Minister has also expressed displeasure that even the 2300 institutions that have been linked to CARA, the children available in these institutions have still not been brought into on the adoption system. The Minister is expected to take this issue very strongly in the meeting of the WCD Ministers of States scheduled to be held on 17.7.2018.
Speaking to Republic TV on July 11, the ADG of the Jharkhand Police had revealed that 24 children were unaccounted for from a centre of the Missionaries of Charity in Ranchi, of which at least four had been sold (and have since been recovered). He also added that the records from which the numbers have come to light only extend back till 2016, hinting that the racket may extend further back.
Additionally, as per the guidelines of the FCRA (Foreign Contributions Regulation) act, the CBI must investigate the matter as there is prima-facie a violation in excess of Rs 1 crore on account of the foreign funding of the various organisations of the Missionaries of Charity running into Rs 927 crore.
Further, on July 14, Republic TV aired the Baby Sale Confession Tapes in connection with the sale of newborns at the Missionaries of Charity home in Ranchi. The 10 tell-all clips, accessed by Republic TV encompass the confessions of those inside the Missionaries of Charity on how they operated. The clips feature three characters - the nun who sold the newborn children, the nun who the baby sellers confessed to and the Missionaries of Charity staffer who oversaw the deal.
THE INVESTIGATION SO FAR
According to the police, the racket involved in the illegal trade was busted after a couple approached the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) for not being able to adopt a child even after paying a sum of Rs 1.2 lakh to one of the ladies working in the organization. The people who have been arrested are Anima Indwar and Sister Consilia.
"The UP-based family alleged that Indwar, who handed over the child to them, had called them up on June 30 and asked them to visit the shelter home for completing certain formalities. When the child was brought to Nirmal Hriday on July 1, Indwar took the boy away," Chairperson of CWC, Rupa Verma said.
Police officials who arrested Anima Indwar stated that a sum of Rs 65,000 was also recovered from her possession. According to the police, during the investigation, it was revealed that the duo had been selling children of unwed mothers illegally by taking amounts of money ranging from Rs 50,000 to 1.5 lakh.
A couple, Saurabh Kumar Agrawal and his wife Preeti Agrawal, from Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh, came into contact of Indwar through a local relative living in Ranchi where she had been working when the deal was finalized. The child was born on May 1 and it was sold to the couple on May 14. Later, Indwar called up the couple on June 30 asking them to come to Ranchi as the child has to be produced in the Court to complete the legal process.
The couple then came to Ranchi following which Indwar took the child in the Court and ran away. On not finding Indwar around, they went to the Missionaries of Charity but were not entertained, after which they approached the CWC.
On summoning the Sisters working in Missionaries of Charity, they recorded contradictory statement following which Indwar and the biological mother of the child revealed everything before them.