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Vidyavati Ashram may reopen in February

Child rights activists warn state govt they will launch protests and move high court if orphanage opens again

Trustee of Vidyavati Ashram in Kanhepahata Rajesh Gupta has announced that he plans to reopen the ashram in February next year, which will only accommodate girls. Child rights activists in the city have taken strong objections to this and have warned the state government they will launch protests if this happens.


Another gamble? Trustee of the Ashram Rajesh Gupta has said that 
he plans to reopen the institute and accommodate only girls this time. 
File Pic

A 13-year-old girl was raped and impregnated by an inmate of the same age at the Ashram, which only came to light six months after the incident. MiD DAY had reported the case on November 3, after  which the Women and Child Development Department appointed an inquiry committee. One of the committee members had pointed out that they suspected that Gupta had tried to change the names of the children to Agarwal so that he could allegedly put them up for adoption. This attempt was aborted after Child Welfare Committee members and school authorities intervened. 

Apart from this, in the past few years, over 12 children were handed over to their guardians without producing them before CWC, which is mandatory according to various rules and regulations under Juvenile Justice Act 2006.

Anjali Pawar, director of Sakhee, said, "The DNA test of a victim's baby is pending and at this point it is not clear about who raped her. It is shocking that trustees have the guts to announce the reopening of the Ashram, after a chain of malpractices were pointed out. This clearly reflects that state government works hand in glove with the Ashram Trustees. He has also stated that this time only girls will be allowed to stay. This raises serious questions that the government is doing nothing about the safety and security of children from poor economic background.

"He has confidently said that he would ensure that victim gets education and will admit other girls as well, which means that the government has given him a green signal. Child rights activists will see to it that the ashram does not open again and trustees are punished for their dereliction of duty. It is his responsibility and he cannot get way with it."

Dr Yamini Adbe, Human Rights activist and a member of South Asian Task Force of United Nations,  said, "When the inquiry is still on Gupta, he has made an announcement about reopening of the Ashram, this only means that he knows that the verdict of the case will be in his favour. He has clearly quoted that CWC is convinced with his reply to all malpractices. And he has accepted that he tried to change the names of the children. 

If he still manages to get clean chit from the concerned authorities to reopen the Ashram. We are going to raise this issue in high court." Reacting to the announcement, Ravindra Patil, Deputy Commissioner of Women And Child Development Department, said, "The government has not issued any recognition to Vidyavati Ashram to run a Children's Home."

Suvarna Pawar, District Women and Child Development, Officer, however, did not respond to the messages sent by the reporter. Pawar is the authority to send recommendations to government if the ashram is to be reopened.

In a telephonic conversation, Rajesh Gupta, trustee of the Ashram, said, "I have only expressed my desire to reopen the ashram in February, if everything in the case is cleared. However, the concerned department have not given me an approval for this." Gupta added that the DNA test would be done only after the victim delivers the baby. 

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