Kollam: With orphanages in Kerala continuing to be under scanner, authorities today decided to send back 22 children from Jharkhand and Bihar staying in an "unauthorised" charity home in Kollam district.
According to police, these children had been brought to Kerala illegally and lodged in an unauthorised orphanage. They would be sent to their home states in the next three days with the government making arrangements for the travel.
The children, majority of whom were from Jamtara in Jharkhand, had been shifted to a state-run children home. A police team and Social Welfare officials would accompany the children during the journey, police said.
The unauthorised lodging of children, 20 from Jharkhand and two each from Bihar and Kerala, at the orphanage came to light after the district administration and police conducted a joint raid at the institution at Perayam near here earlier this week. Officials found that the orphanage had been functioning "illegally" and children lodged in unhygienic conditions.
The bringing in of children from eastern states to orphanages in Kerala without following legal procedures has become a major issue after railway police detained over 500 children from Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal, who travelled without proper documents, at Palakkad last month.
The issue had snowballed into a big controversy, bringing orphanages run by charity trusts under the scanner. A case was registered and 10 person who accompanied by them had been arrested.
The government had ordered a police investigation in the case to ascertain whether it was a case of `human trafficking` or it just involved procedural lapses.
Though it was initially dubbed as a clear case of human trafficking, many of the 500 children were later found to have proper documents and taken to the respective orphanages with the consent of their families.
A total of 119 children from Jharkhand were sent home earlier this week in two special coaches of Ernakulam-Patna Express from Palakkad, jointly arranged by the two state governments.
The Kerala government also decided to return another batch of 59 boys from Malda district in West Bengal, staying in an destitute-cum-orphanage in Malappuram.
Besides officials from Jharkhand, Social Justice and Child welfare officials from Bihar and West Bengal arrived in Kerala to collect evidences on the issue.
In a related development, Kerala High Court recently directed the government to inform its stand by June 30 on a petition by an NGO seeking a CBI probe into the alleged human trafficking of the children.
Meanwhile, a senior government official from Bihar, who is in Kerala in connection with the issue, said 53 children from his state, lodged in shelter homes after their detention last month, would soon be sent home.
Imamuddin Ahamed, Director of Social Welfare Department of Bihar, told reporters in Palakkad that steps were being taken for the journey of these children.
The team of officials led by Ahamed visited the shelter homes in Palakkad and Thrissur, where most of these children are accommodated.
They also held discussions with local officials and interacted with children, who had been brought to here without following due procedures.