Two infants die at Jharkhand government-aided shelter home, probe ordered

Patna, Aug. 20 -- Two infants, including a six-month-old girl rescued by the Ranchi child welfare committee (CWC) from a Missionaries of Charity-run shelter home in wake of an alleged baby selling incident, died at government-aided Sahyog Village shelter home in Jharkhand's Khunti district, officials said on Monday.

The Khunti CWC identified the six-month-old as Palo Tuti. The other four-month-old baby's identity is yet to be ascertained, as she was reportedly left by an unwed mother at Sahyog village.

Khunti deputy development commissioner (DDC) CK Mandal said: "Both the babies were ill and we admitted them to a hospital couple of days back. But, they could not survive and died on Sunday. Hospital authorities said that they died due to prolonged illness."

He said the administration has set up a medical team to investigate into exact cause of the death. "We have also set up a three-member magisterial team to probe into incident," Mandal said.

The Sahyog Village management held the CWC responsible for the deaths. "We have a licence to keep 10 children, but the CWC dumped 12 more children on us last month. I even requested CWC member Baidyanath Kumar to hand the children over to their parents at the earliest. They identified the parents, but did not hand the babies over," said Sahayog Village founder Dr Manjeet.

Dr Manjeet said one of the infants was admitted to the Malnutrition Treatment Centre four days ago. "But she died in government care. How can we be held responsible for that?" he asked.

.Palo was among the 22 children rescued from the Sishu Bhawan at Hinoo on July 6 by the Ranchi CWC. Out of them, 12 children belonged to Khunti and they were handed to the district CWC so that they could be reunited with their respective parents.

Khunti CWC member Baidyanath Kumar said that they received the children on July 14 and they had been shifted to Sahyog Village. "Five parents have so far come and claimed their respective children. We handed over their children after proper verification," he said.

However, some parents including Palo's father Pyaran Tuti, a resident of Rurki village under Saiko police station, claimed they had approached the CWC several times demanding their children be handed over but returned empty handed.

Tuti, a single parent said, "Few people came to my house on Sunday night and asked me to go with them to see my daughter. When I reached the shelter home, I found my daughter was dead." He said the officials later dropped him back to his village along with his daughter's body.

Social rights activist Mary Tirkey, who has been fighting for the cause of rescued children, said: "On July 14, nine parents were given their children by Ranchi CWC along with a letter. The letter says the children are being transferred to Khunti CWC. As per the letter, parents handed over the children to CWC. Instead giving the children, the members asked the parents to go. The CWC members said health check up of the children is required. But, parents were not given their children till date."

Some of the parents have also filed a petition in the high court seeking its intervention to get their children back. Gopinath Ghosh, a human right activist, said "We provided legal assistance to the parents to file the petition about 10 days back. We are expecting its first hearing in a week."

Jharkhand state commission for protection of child rights (JSCPCR) chairperson Aarti Kujur, who visited Khunti on Monday, said: "I asked CWC officials about the delay in handing over the children to their parents. The committee members said they were handing back the children after home verification and the children, who are ill, are being treated at hospital."



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