NGOs under scanner for not reporting kids smugglin



Panaji: NGOs interacting with the minors at the state-run shelter home here had never told the state government about the nexus between the shelter home staff and a gangster, who used to smuggle children out for crimes, a senior official has said.

Another official, investigating the case, said that it is also being probed whether these NGOs themselves had any role to play in the children's escapes.

Director of Women and Child Welfare Department Sanjiv Gadkar said yesterday that NGOs working with Apna Ghar, a state-run shelter home for children in conflict with law and also in need for care and protection, had never told them specifically that the staff was involved in the nexus.

"NGOs never told us specifically. But sometimes they pointed out that insiders may be involved in frequent escapes of the minors," Gadkar said adding that there was no proof forthcoming to nail the caretakers employed with the shelter.

A gangster, a caretaker and four children have been arrested by Goa Police, which revealed the nexus, as minor children were being used by gangsters to commit crimes like robberies, thefts and even murders.

According to police, the children lodged at the shelter-home were allowed to frequently escape and were given passage back after committing the crime.

Levinson Martins, a state-government appointed officer investigating the nexus and regular escapes, said the role of NGOs in these escapes is also being probed. "I will be submitting my detailed report after 15 days," he said, adding that besides the role of caretakers, the NGOs are also being probed as a part of inquiry.

Half a dozen NGOs empanelled have been regularly interacting with the children, mostly those, who are in conflict with the law.

Gadkar said that the NGOs, who suspected the link, were asked to give more proof about the linkages - between staffers, minors and gangster.

During the inquiry, the children were not coming forward with the statements about the nexus, he said.

Various constitutional bodies like Child Welfare Committee, Juvenile Justice Board, counsellors and NGOs were regularly interacting with the children.

He said the government felt that someone from inside or outside was involved in the escapes, without which, the children would not have been able to break the high security cordons.

The shelter home situated on the outskirts of Panaji has 80 children, of which 46 are lodged in various boarding schools for their education. These children come back to Apna Ghar only during vacations.

There are more than 10 children, who are lodged for committing various crimes in the Apna Ghar, who have been frequently escaping from here.

PTI